Are these greatest problems engineers will be called on to solve this century? Perhaps apathy is the greatest.
You may have missed it in the rush for the Presidents Day holiday and vacation week, but that's when the National Academy of Engineering decided to release the results of its surveying the engineering community to come up with Grand Challenges for Engineering in the next hundred years. (It's also National Engineers Week.)
The list of 14 hurdlespopulated heavily with environmental, medical, and energy issueswas more an overarching list of long-range concerns, with, at first read, little specific (nor shorter-range but inspiring) challenges on the order of President Kennedy's call for going to the moon in the decade of the 1960s. Perhaps a list of milestones to realize each ultimate goal would help the public grasp the tasks at handand offer some indication of progress in getting there.
For automotive engineers, no concrete goals, such as a hydrogen economy, were targeted. Nor was space exploration highlighted.
Maybe the greatest challenge for the technology and scientific community is to get the politicians to realize that both our problems and their solutions are long range effortsbeyond the limits of several of their terms in office.
What, in your opinion, are the major engineering challenges that society faces? Go to our Forums page and let us, and your fellow readers, know.