Farouk El-Baz appointed to National Academy of Engineering's "Grand Challenges for Engineering" committee
El-Baz to help identify top challenges in engineering over next century
(Boston) – Boston University today announced that Farouk El-Baz, noted scientist and director of the University’s Center for Remote Sensing, was selected as a member of a National Academy of Engineering (NAE) committee that will identify the top 20 challenges likely to face engineering over the next 100 years. Chaired by former Defense Secretary William Perry, the “Grand Challenges for Engineering” committee will work with scientists, engineers, and the general public to gather ideas about the future issues facing engineering and technology.
Using a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the NAE established the 18-member panel last fall. In January the committee took its first major step in the process with the launch of www.engineeringchallenges.org. The site provides additional information about the initiative and also invites members of the public to submit their thoughts and suggestions. Comments can also be left on a message board set up by www.MSNBC.com for the project.
According to the NAE, in the last century alone, many great engineering achievements became so commonplace that we now take them mostly for granted – from safe drinking water and electricity for much of the world to global travel and growing computer and communications technologies. As remarkable as these achievements are, many more challenges and opportunities remain to be realized. While some seem clear, others lie beyond the imagination.
“The most significant aspect of this is to highlight the role of science and engineering in improving conditions of human life worldwide,” said El-Baz. “I also hope this will encourage young people to enroll in science and technology. Presenting a set of challenges for the future is the very best motivation for innovation and excellence.”
Once the feedback collected on the websites is reviewed, the committee will release the list of challenges in September. El-Baz believes the most likely items to make the list include renewable energy and combating global warming, sea and brackish water desalination, biotechnology and nanotechnology applications to health, computation, communication and space exploration, among others.
The Boston University Center for Remote Sensing is a research facility that was established in 1986. Researchers at the Center apply techniques of remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) to research in the fields of archaeology, geography and geology. In 1997, the Center was recognized by NASA as a “Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing.”
Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school's research and teaching mission.
Thanks to Kira Edler, 617-358-1240 for this release
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