21st Century Engineering Challenges
Today, Slashdot links us to an article at Network World about the 14 greatest engineering challenges for the 21st century. An interesting assortment of people, including my buddy Bob Langer at MIT, came up with this list, and it sounds like they hit the nail on the head in most respects. "Engineer better medicines" must have been one of Bob's entries.
The most reasonable of these goals, I think, is to "make solar energy affordable." We've come leaps and bounds in the past 10 years in this field, thanks to generous venture capital funding and some really bright guys who, incidentally, are also mostly graduates of MIT.
The most vague of these goals must be "engineer the tools for scientific discovery." I suppose that probably means building better microscopes, telescopes, and tweezers (not kidding), but perhaps its wording could be somewhat more definite?
Overall, setting goals like these is a Good Thing. I can only hope the NSF is actually going to form task forces and invest heavily in achieving these goals.