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Solving future challenges begins with research.

Tackling the challenges of the 21st century requires an approach to problem solving that focuses on the creation and integration of knowledge across traditional disciplines.

We believe we can have an impact on many of these challenges, and have identified 10 key areas where our scholars are poised to do so. The opportunities will leverage colleagues across Stanford University and beyond. They are aspirational, framed as 10 questions where Stanford Engineering can help make a difference in the world. Stanford will not answer these questions alone, but engineering solutions are at the heart of making progress.

What these research areas have in common is the scale and complexity of the undertaking. Although Stanford has long been at the forefront of interdisciplinary activity focused on societal grand challenges, as both the challenges and engineering evolve, we must add a more dynamic and more flexible approach to catalyze change.

The ability to bring the right people together at the right time to focus on solving problems is the critical step forward for us. The Stanford Catalyst for Creative Solutions is the heart of our solution. The Catalyst will be a program of competitive fellowships to help build teams focused on solutions to society’s most pressing problems. It will allow us to bring together Stanford and visiting scholars from academia, industry, and government; graduate students and postdoctoral researchers — and engage scholars across campus and more broadly to focus on a dynamic series of challenging problems that have engineering solutions at their core.

In addition, while many of our experimental laboratories are already operated in a model in which expensive and sensitive equipment is shared, we need to do more. In addition to being the most efficient and effective way to provide our researchers with the cutting-edge tools they need, sharing research space, resources, and ideas sparks interactions that advance knowledge and lead to new discoveries. We are committed to world-class shared facilities and equipment that encourage students and researchers in engineering to work and study with others across academic disciplines.

Where Stanford Engineers are Making a Difference

A look at some of the research our faculty is working on to address the challenges of the 21st century.