Duke Engineering Contest Connects U.S. Students with National Problems

November 10, 2008

Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering challenges college students in the U.S. to create a video and an essay in response to this question: Which of the 14 grand challenges identified by the National Academy of Engineering would you choose to address, and how would you do it?

The National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges (http://www.engineeringchallenges.org) has identified 14 critical barriers to a sustainable way of life. They represent problems that will require a combination of science, technology and policy to solve, such as producing alternative energy, safeguarding the environment, providing clean water and improving medicines and healthcare.

The winning team or individual will receive $15,000 in cash. Second place captures $10,000 and third-place winners will receive $5,000. Winners will be announced at the Summit on the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges event in Durham, N.C. on March 2, 2009. The winning video will be played during the summit.

The summit, sponsored by Duke University, the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering and Olin College of Engineering, is intended to be a national conversation on the grand challenges.

The video contest is part of an outreach effort to engage college students in “big picture thinking,” said Tom Katsouleas, dean of Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.

The contest prize money, provided by an anonymous donor, is intended to stimulate student interest in the grand challenges. “It is critical to the future of our society to engage and prepare the best and the brightest of our students in addressing these issues,” said Katsouleas. “They will be the generation that will solve them.”

The videos should present the students’ reasons for choosing a specific grand challenge, and present the social impact, the national technological readiness to address the challenge, and possible avenues to solve the challenge.

The competition is open to all degree-seeking students attending U.S. universities, colleges and community colleges.