21st-century engineering challenges

By Clifford Petit / November 2, 2017

Engineers lead us into the future. They make grand ideas real; they bring dreams into reality, they build our world. 21st century already showed that there is so much more to discover and that we have just scratched the surface of what mankind can achieve. Great challenges lay ahead, and engineers are here to lead the way. Many societies and academies around the world discuss these challenges and announce the concepts and ideas which they believe present the greatest engineering feats to accomplish.

A panel organized by the National Academy of Engineering announced the projects which will hold the keys to great civilizational breakthroughs, which will allow humankind to make their lives easier. Of course, we still have to figure out how to accomplish these projects and turn them from idea to reality. These range from solar power to brain power. For example, did you know that if we could harness as little as 0.0001 percent of solar energy that hits our planet every day, we would satisfy the energy needs of every single human being? Here is a list of the world’s greatest technological challenges.

Economical solar energy

The goal is to make solar technology efficient and reliable so that we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Fusion energy

If we could harness the power of atoms uniting, we could accomplish stunning feats of engineering because we will be able to control much more energy than we can at the moment.

Carbon sequestration

This is a process which will enable us to store CO2, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere and creating a greenhouse effect.

Nitrogen cycle management

Controlling this cycle will help the stability of our ecosystems and have a positive effect on biodiversity.

Access to clean water

One of the imperative issues of tomorrow will be to satisfy the needs for clean, fresh water. Some say it may be too late to save the fresh water resources, so we have to act quickly.

Urban infrastructure

Our cities have to be well designed, working in unison with our needs. We have to create cities which can handle great influxes of population.

Health informatics

HIT or Health information technology will allow us to combine computer and social science with medicine so we can medically treat people better.

Medicine engineering


The pharmaceutical industry also has its challenges, striving to create medicines which work better, without dangerous and costly side effects.

Brain reverse-engineering

When we figure out how our brain works and how we generate thoughts, we will be able to connect our intelligence with AI.

Preventing nuclear terror

Maybe the crucial challenge. How to stop global atomic war is the question of all question, because everything else is less important if we do not have a planet to live on.

About the author

Clifford Petit