The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in the USA has identified 14 Grand Challenges, which engineers need to address in the 21st century, in order for humankind to flourish and progress into the next century. These Grand Challenges cover the areas of energy and environment, health, security and education:
1. MAKE SOLAR ENERGY ECONOMICAL
Solar energy provides less than 1% of the world’s total energy, but it has the potential to provide much more. Solar energy presents an attractive alternative for a long-term sustainable energy source.
2. PROVIDE ENERGY FROM FUSION
Human-engineered fusion has been demonstrated on a small scale, e.g. the use of lithium in our laptop batteries. The challenge is to scale-up the process to commercial proportions in an efficient, economical and sustainable way.
3. DEVELOP CARBON SEQUESTRATION METHODS
The growth in emissions of carbon dioxide is a prime contributor to global warming. Engineers are now working on ways to capture and store excess carbon dioxide to prevent global warming.
4. MANAGE THE NITROGEN CYCLE
Human-induced challenges in the global nitrogen cycle pose threats to the environment. With better fertilisation technologies and by capturing and recycling waste, engineers can help restore balance to the nitrogen cycle.
5. PROVIDE ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER
In many parts of the world, there is a critical shortage of water for drinking and other uses. Affordable, advanced technologies could make a difference for millions who face shortage of access to clean water.
6. ADVANCE HEALTH INFORMATICS
Stronger health information systems can not only improve everyday medical visits, but they are also essential to counter pandemics and biological or chemical attacks.
7. ENGINEER BETTER MEDICINES
Engineers today are working on developing new systems to use genetic information, sense small 12 changes in the body, assess new drugs and deliver vaccines that meet the unique needs of an individual patient – enabling doctors to improve the quality of treatment.
8. PREVENT NUCLEAR TERROR
As nuclear technologies and nuclear weapons continue to develop, there is a growing need for technologies to prevent and respond to potential nuclear attacks or disasters.
9. SECURE CYBERSPACE
Today, both personal privacy and national security depend on protecting the cyberspace from threats. Despite serious breaches of cyber security occurring in the past, research and development for security systems continues to lag behind.
10. RESTORE AND IMPROVE URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE
10 Engineers must face the formidable challenge of modernising the fundamental infrastructures that support civilisation (from water and sewer systems to road and rail networks, to national power and natural gas grids) and create more sustainable urban environments.
11. REVERSE-ENGINEER THE BRAIN
Discovering the secrets of how living brains work may offer the best guide to engineering artificial intelligence (AI) on a larger scale. Reverse-engineering the brain promises great advances in healthcare, manufacturing and communication.
12. ENHANCE VIRTUAL REALITY
Virtual reality is becoming a powerful new tool in many specialised fields, including psychiatry, education, entertainment, healthcare, and manufacturing. True virtual reality creates the illusion of actually being in a different space, and can be used for training, treatment and communication.
13. ADVANCE PERSONALISED LEARNING
Teaching has traditionally followed the one-size-fits-all approach, but with the growing appreciation of more “personalised learning”, there is a need for instruction to be customised based on learning styles, speeds and interests to match the student.
14. ENGINEER THE TOOLS OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY
In the century ahead, engineers and scientists will continue to work hand-in-hand in the great quest for understanding many unanswered questions in areas like biological research, human civilisation and quantum physics.
For more details on the Grand Challenges visit www.engineeringchallenges.org/
National and International Competitions
Students are given the opportunity to participate in various national and international competitions, which challenge them to apply their knowledge, obtain feedback from experts, demonstrate teamwork, boost their confidence and sharpen their practical skills.
Students also attend and observe other competitions in preparation for their own real-world scenarios. This gives them a platform to learn more about latest industry developments, compare best practices and witness the application of engineering work across different industries and scenarios.
Taylor’s Engineering Fair
Every semester, Department of Engineering organises an Engineering Fair that showcases the students’ work to the campus community, industry members and visiting academicians. This is an avenue for students to demonstrate their technical skills and knowledge, and increase their exposure to aspects of marketing, event organisation and project management. Some of the projects done by our students are showcased below.
Application of Natural Fibres in Acoustic Panel
This project explored the opportunities to commercialise natural products such as coir, corn, oil palm fibres and their wastes, for general use. These products are found to be good sound absorbers at certain frequency bands.
(Grand Challenge 14)
This project aimed to design a cost efficient, aerodynamically and mechanically designed, 4-rotor helicopter to counter the disadvantages of the helicopter. The quadrocopter was installed with autopilot and long-range camera for navigation and rescuing operations.
(Grand Challenge 13)
NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Programme
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) is a combined curricular and extra-curricular programme with five components that are designed to prepare students to be the generation that solves the grand challenges facing society in this century.
The Grand Challenges are a call-to-action and serve as a focal point for society’s attention to opportunities and challenges affecting our quality of life.
Taylor's Department of Engineering is the first Malaysian University outside North America that is registered with GCSP. For more details on GCSP, visit http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/GrandChallengeScholarsProgram.aspx
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