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2017 Global Grand Challenges Summit Announced
June 2017

The third Global Grand Challenges Summit (GGCS), jointly organized by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), will be held July 18-20, 2017, on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Based on the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering, the GGCS series aims to spark global collaborations that lead to innovative ways of addressing critically important engineering challenges and opportunities and inspiring the next generation of change makers. Previous summits were held in London and Beijing. The 2017 GGCS will focus on the four themes of the NAE Grand Challenges — sustainability, health, security, and joy of living — as well as education and public engagement. Highlighted topics include virtual reality and artificial intelligence, engineering and health care, climate change, and reverse engineering the brain.

“The NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering are the first global engineering vision for the planet. They inspire us about what engineering needs to contribute to people and society,” said NAE President C.D. Mote, Jr. “The Summit will rouse students’ creativity in their solutions to forge a better future.”

“Engineering has been a critical driving force in the progress of human civilization, and it will play an even more prominent role in addressing the grand challenges facing humankind,” said CAE President Ji Zhou. “Common challenges call for joint efforts. The Summit has become a perfect platform for engineers, the public, and the younger generation from different countries to interact and cooperate on how to address the grand challenges through engineering efforts.”

“The challenges facing our world are not restricted by national boundaries – and neither are the solutions,” said RAE President Dame Ann Dowling. “Engineering is critical to solving these challenges and we see fantastic results when engineers the world over come together to share their expertise, ideas, and innovations. The Global Grand Challenges Summit is a tremendous opportunity to inspire engineers, students, and other members of the public to work together to build a better world.”

A keynote address will be given by Rajiv Shah, recently named president of the Rockefeller Foundation and previous administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). With more than 20 years of experience in business, government, and philanthropy, Shah is an expert in creating public-private partnerships that support initiatives to improve quality of life throughout the developing world.

The Summit will also feature a session highlighting the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program — a combined curricular and extracurricular program with five components designed to prepare college students for solving the grand challenges facing society in this century. More than 40 schools across the nation have implemented the program. The session will include both students and educators, and will be moderated by Thomas Katsouleas, provost of the University of Virginia.

In addition, the Summit includes an opportunity for university students to present research posters related to the 14 Grand Challenges. The poster session will provide a chance to network and to brainstorm in small groups.

On July 18th, five teams of undergraduate students from each of the host countries will compete in Student Day, presenting ideas and business plans for addressing one or more of the NAE Grand Challenges. Winning teams will receive monetary prizes and be recognized during a special session of the GGCS on July 20th. In addition, a panel of representatives from industry will talk about their work focused on the NAE Grand Challenges.

The NAE, RAE, and CAE are hosting the 2017 Summit in conjunction with the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge, at which robotics teams of high school students from nearly 160 countries will compete in a contest on the NAE Grand Challenge to “Provide Access to Clean Water.” They will be tasked with accomplishing an engineering assignment such as the storing of drinkable water, filtering of contaminated water, and procuring of new sources water. The event will take place July 16-18 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Each year, this event will be held in a different nation’s capital and focus on a new challenge.

The Global Grand Challenges Summit is sponsored by the Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Boeing Company Charitable Trust, the Northrop Grumman Foundation, and Shell Oil Company. Additional information can be found online at

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