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K-12 Educators Enlisted for ‘Grand Challenges’


America’s engineers must solve a series of Grand Challenges in the 21st Century, says the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), in areas ranging from security to health care to energy to quality of life. The issues involved include making solar power economical, providing universal access to clean water and reverse-engineering the human brain. But, if those challenges are to be met, it says, the nation needs more STEM graduates. So, it has launched the NAE Grand Challenges K-12 Partners Program, according to the website, Campus Technology. The idea is for colleges of engineering across the U.S. to join a regional partners program; the colleges would provide primary and secondary schools with engineering materials and curricula appropriate for various grade levels, offer professional training to teachers, and host regional STEM conferences.

Tom Katsouleas (pictured above), Duke University Engineering Dean, and Louis Martin-Vega, Engineering Dean at North Carolina State University, announced the program last week. “We … hope that by teaching youngsters to develop a problem-solving orientation to the world, something we call ‘engineering habits of the mind,’ we may also encourage” more students into STEM careers, Katsouleas said. Duke and NCSU hope to build momentum for the program at a series of Spring summits at schools around the U.S., including the University of Chicago, Arizona State University, the University of Southern California, and the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

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