Engineering Stories and Grand Challenges


I just read a paper titled, “The Grand Challenges of the 21st Century” in which Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, searches for those “ambitious yet achievable goals that capture the public’s imagination and that require innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology to achieve.” As an example he notes President Kennedy’s famous call to put a man on the moon.

Tom discusses the attributes of a Grand Challenge and why they are important. He calls for individuals and institutions to identify and pursue Grand Challenges. One suggestion he makes is addressed to storytellers and Hollywood. “Media companies and America’s storytellers could help elevate the role that Grand Challenges and innovators play in our culture. Dean Kamen observed that in a free society, you get what you celebrate. How many Americans can name a living scientist or engineer? What could Hollywood and our creative talent do to help make engineers and entrepreneurs the rock stars of the 21st century?” (Kalil, Tom, The Grand Challenges of the 21st Century, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, April 12, 2012, Washington, DC) http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/grandchallenges-speech-04122012.pdf

I don’t know if my Engineering Stories will ever make it into media beyond the written word, but I do see how my efforts to write plausible stories can help raise awareness and encourage youth and others to become skilled in engineering and then go forward and make a Grand difference in the world.

Stand by for more Engineering Stories.

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