UAB School of Engineering joins nationwide effort presented to White House

More than 20,000 students included in plan to educate the next generation of engineers.

engineering buildingIn a letter of commitment presented to President Barack Obama this week, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Engineering joined more than 120 U.S. engineering schools in announcing plans to educate a new generation of engineers expressly equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society in the 21st century.

These “Grand Challenges,” identified through initiatives such as the White House Strategy for American Innovation, the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges for Engineering, or NAE, and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, include complex yet critical goals, such as engineering better medicines, making solar energy cost-competitive with coal, securing cyberspace, and advancing personalized learning tools to deliver better education to more individuals.

“In many ways, the challenges identified through these initiatives are already at the heart of our work at the UAB School of Engineering,” said Iwan Alexander, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering. “Our faculty members are currently working in a variety of fields, including biomedical devices, transportation, manufacturing and clean energy, among others. In all these areas, we’re looking for sustainable solutions today that will help solve the problems of tomorrow.”

Each of the 122 signing schools has pledged to graduate a minimum of 20 students per year who have been specially prepared to lead the way in solving such large-scale problems, with the goal of training more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the next decade.

Each of the 122 signing schools has pledged to graduate a minimum of 20 students per year who have been specially prepared to lead the way in solving such large-scale problems, with the goal of training more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the next decade.

More than a quarter of the nation’s engineering schools are now committed to establishing programs to educate engineers to take on the Grand Challenges.

Other Southeastern engineering schools included in the announcement are Alabama A&M University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Mississippi and Vanderbilt University. To view an interactive map of all participating schools, click here.

Grand Challenge Engineers will be trained through special programs at each institution that integrate five educational elements: a hands-on research or design project connected to the Grand Challenges; real-world, interdisciplinary experiential learning with clients and mentors; entrepreneurship and innovation experience; global and cross-cultural perspectives; and service learning.

More information on this initiative, including a copy of the letter of commitment, is available here. The initiative grew out of a 2014 workshop organized by the American Association of Engineering Societies, Epicenter, Engineers Without Borders USA, EPICS, and the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program.

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