Distinguished Lecture in Engineering and Applied Science


Grand Challenges for Engineering

Date: November 30, 2017, 4:30 PM
Location: Beckman Institute Auditorium

In the spring of 1863, during the darkest days in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln created what is now known as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The Congressional charter establishing the Academies states: “The academy shall, whenever called upon by any department of the government, investigate, examine… and report upon any subject of science or art,… but the Academy shall receive no compensation whatsoever for any services to the government of the United States.” For more than 150 years, the Academies have performed this role in service to the nation, conducting studies and other activities consistent with its mission.

The STEM talent pipeline has been a priority of the Academies for decades. One recent effort addressing this critical need is the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering (www.engineeringchallenges.org). Established 10 years ago by a committee of distinguished engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and visionaries, the Grand Challenges set a global vision for engineering in this century and identify 14 goals that will make it possible for people around the world to thrive. Rarely has an idea so rapidly and forcefully captured the imagination of professional practitioners, policymakers, students, and the general public. The NAE Grand Challenges are having an especially powerful and inspirational impact on education through the Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP), which has been adopted by scores of engineering programs across the country. There are now approximately 100 GCSP initiatives in place or under development.

This presentation will review the history and contributions of the Academies to the nation and society, with particular emphasis on materials science and engineering. In addition, it will describe the Grand Challenges for Engineering and the Grand Challenges Scholars Program, illustrating the appeal these initiatives have for today’s students.


Subra Suresh Speaker: Alton D. Romig, Jr., Executive Officer, National Academy of Engineering

Alton D. Romig, Jr. is the executive officer of the National Academy of Engineering. As executive officer, Dr. Romig is the chief operating officer responsible for the program, financial, and membership operations of the Academy, reporting to the NAE president. He was previously vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Advanced Development Programs, better known as the Skunk Works®. He spent the majority of his career at Sandia National Laboratories, operated by the Lockheed Martin Corporation, having joined Sandia as a member of the technical staff in 1979 and moved through a succession of R&D management positions leading to his appointment as executive vice president in 2005. Dr. Romig serves or has served on a number of Advisory Committees including those at U. Washington, MIT, Ohio State, Purdue, Georgia Tech, the Colorado School of Mines and Sandia National Laboratories. He is also a visiting Associate of Applied Physics and Materials Science at Caltech. Dr. Romig is a member of the Board of Directors of Football Research, Inc., a non-profit entity created and supported by the National Football League.

Dr. Romig is a Fellow TMS, IEEE, AIAA and AAAS. He is also a Fellow and Honorary Member of ASM International. Dr. Romig was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003 and the Council of Foreign Relations in 2008. He was awarded the ASM Silver Medal for Materials Research in 1988. He received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from Lehigh University in 1979.