Trouble viewing? Open in web browser.

Journalist Resources Stanford News Stanford Experts Contact Us
Stanford University homepage

News Service

February 12, 2008

What are the grand engineering challenges of the 21st century? Stanford's William Perry and other luminaries have the answers

What are the world's great engineering challenges in the 21st century?

Nanotechnology? Clean water? Electronics? Transportation? Energy? Global warming? Medical equipment? Artificial intelligence?

At the request of the National Academy of Engineering, Stanford's William Perry, an engineering professor and former secretary of defense, has led a team of leading technical thinkers who have put together just such a list. The 18-member committee includes Google co-founder Larry Page, genomics pioneer J. Craig Venter, former NIH Director Bernadine Healy, inventor Dean Kamen and Nobel laureate Mario Molina.

Having heard suggestions from 40 countries, the team will present the list Thursday, Feb. 15, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.

The team also has looked at research and innovation—either already being explored or which should be considered—that might address each challenge.

The goal is to generate public interest in these challenges, said Randy Atkins of the National Academy of Engineering.

Along those lines, the academy came up with a list of the top 20 of the 20th century's greatest engineering achievements:

Electrification, automobile, airplane, water supply and distribution, electronics, radio and television, agricultural mechanization, computers, telephone, air conditioning and refrigeration, highways, spacecraft, Internet, imaging, household appliances, health technologies, petroleum and petrochemical technologies, laser and fiber optics, nuclear technologies, and high-performance materials.

Editor Note:

William Perry is scheduled to speak at a press briefing at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, 2008, on the "Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century." The National Academy of Engineering's list of challenges will be released at the briefing. The briefing, in Room 112, Plaza Level, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, is part of the AAAS annual meeting.



Dan Stober, Stanford News Service: (650) 721-6965,


Randy Atkins, National Academy of Engineering: (202) 334-1508,

Related Information


Update your subscription

  • Email:
  • Phone: (650) 723-2558

More Stanford coverage

Facebook Twitter iTunes YouTube Futurity RSS

Journalist Resources Stanford News Stanford Experts Contact Us

© Stanford University. Stanford, California 94305. (650) 723-2300.