LTU students to display solutions to society’s biggest challenges in Dec. 9 research event

SOUTHFIELD—More than 100 students at Lawrence Technological University will show off their work to help solve some of the most vexing problems of the 21st century in a federal “Grand Challenges of Engineering” presentation program Thursday, Dec. 9.

The student presentations will be on display at LTU’s Taubman Engineering, Architecture, and Life Sciences Complex from 5 to 8 p.m. The event is open to the public. (The Taubman Complex is Building 8 at Free parking is available nearby in Lots D and E.) The photo above shows the pre-pandemic December 2019 event; the 2020 event was held virtually.

The Grand Challenges of Engineering program was developed by the National Academy of Engineering and top engineering schools to educate a new generation of engineers equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society.

The challenges include advancing personalized learning, making solar energy economical, enhancing virtual reality, reverse-engineering the brain, engineering better medicines, advancing health informatics, restoring and improving urban infrastructure, securing cyberspace, providing access to clean water, providing energy from fusion, preventing nuclear terrorism, managing the nitrogen cycle, developing carbon sequestration methods, and engineering the tools of scientific discovery.

Lawrence Tech is one of only two engineering schools in Michigan to implement the Grand Challenges Scholars Program—and the only university in the entire nation to include humanities majors in the effort, according to Jason Barrett, chair of the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Communications in LTU’s College of Arts and Sciences. The Dec. 9 event is the fifth year LTU will show off its students’ work on the challenges. They’re competing for $1,000 in prizes.

“The problems of the 21st century are too big for people in any one field to solve,” Barrett said. “Solutions will come only through working across disciplines, including engineering, the sciences, entrepreneurship, and design.”

At Lawrence Tech, first-year College of Arts and Sciences students taking a required class in “Pathways to Research Careers” were asked to design a research project that would help someone in their major solve one of the Grand Challenge’s problems facing society. Second-year engineering students taking a course in entrepreneurial engineering, called the Engineering Design Studio, also participate. LTU dual-enrolled high school students are eligible to receive college credit for the freshman Pathways to Research Careers/Grand Challenges Scholars program as well.

More than 25 LTU faculty and staff are serving as judges.

Said LTU Provost Tarek Sobh: “The Grand Challenges Scholars Program, with its vision of solving the major problems facing humanity in the 21st century and its emphasis on interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship, service, and global engagement, truly epitomizes what Lawrence Technological University is all about. LTU is the creative university of the future that ensures eminent high-paying professional careers for its alumni, the university that produces technologically savvy graduates no matter what degree they attain or discipline they choose to study, the creative university that prepares students for 21st century interdisciplinary careers and job titles that do not even exist yet.”

Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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