US scientists pinpoint 14 top technological challenges

BOSTON, Massachusetts, Feb 16, 2008 (AFP) – The US National Academy of Engineering has announced the grand challenges for engineering in the 21st century that, if met, would improve people’s lives. The list of 14 tasks was unveiled Friday by a diverse committee of experts from around the world, convened at the request of the US National Science Foundation.

“Tremendous advances in quality of life have come from improved technology in areas such as farming and manufacturing,” said committee member and Google co-founder Larry Page. “If we focus our effort on the important grand challenges of our age, we can hugely improve the future.”

The panel, some of the most accomplished engineers and scientists of their generation, was established in 2006 and met several times to discuss and develop the list of challenges.

Through an interactive Web site, the effort received worldwide input from prominent engineers and scientists, as well as from the general public, over a one-year period.

The panel’s conclusions were reviewed by more than 50 subject-matter experts.

The final choices fall into four themes that are essential for humanity to flourish: sustainability, health, reducing vulner