It has been two weeks since the inaugural Global Grand Challenges Summit took place in London, and I am still in awe of everything I saw and heard as well as of everyone that I had the pleasure of meeting. With over 500 of today’s world leaders in engineering, politics, research, policy, education, economics, design, development and industry gathering in London to discuss how we address the grand challenges that we all face, it is little wonder as to why I am still whirring a couple of weeks on.
In my opinion, the Summit, which was jointly devised by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the (US) National Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Engineering over a year ago, achieved so much more than just a superficial discussion – it was a stark debate about how the global engineering community should go about solving our most pressing challenges, with sessions both exploring the bigger pictures, such as how to overcome the political inertia surrounding many development issues, as well as the showcasing of new technological innovations already being developed, like those taking place in personalised medicine.
With such a wide range of topics and speakers all in one place, the Summit had many messages and identified many significant opportunities for progress on the grand challenges. Out of everything, however, the main message that I took home was the need for engineers to engage – engage more with each other, engage more with other disciplines and engage more with other countries. If we are to meet the challenges that we all face, should we all aspire to be a little bit more like Leonardo di Vinci or perhaps even channel our inner will.i.am?
The RAEng plans on harnessing the momentum from the Summit by taking forward several actions from the event, including the creation of an online resource for engineering thought leadership – I would be very interested to hear of any other actions inspired by the Summit, as well as hearing your own views on what the take home messages from the Summit were. I invite you all to comment below…
By Eleanor Hood
International Assistant at the Royal Academy of Engineering
(These are my own views and not necessarily those held by the Royal Academy of Engineering)