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College of Engineering

Building the 22nd Century conference web banner

About the Conference
Omaha / Lincoln, Nebraska, Oct. 14-16, 2013 spacer

The Premise

The mission of colleges of engineering is to educate, equip and empower generations of engineers for technological leadership. graduating engineers of today will rise to key leadership roles over a career spanning forty to fifty years. These leaders will develop future generations of leaders who will, in turn, have forty to fifty year careers. How we train students today, therefore, will have a direct impact on society of the 22nd century. It is incumbent upon us, then, to structure everything we do toward preparing our student to formulate solutions and create technologies for problems and challenges that we cannot even envision.

The Challenge

It is impossible for us to know exactly what the 22nd century will be like. However, there are a number of things that we can be pretty sure of:

  1. The global population will rise to 15-20 billion.
  2. Existing natural resources will have been significantly depleted if not expended entirely.
  3. The vast majority of the world’s population will be living in megacities.

If we are to equip and enable present and future generations to design and build their environ-ments in efficient, effective and sustainable ways, it is essential for us to start building the infra-structure they will need today. This challenge transcends all aspects of engineering. One thing is certain: the role of engineering into the 22nd century will be far from orthodox. There will be multidisciplinary linkages that are not immediately obvious to us today. There will be new and critically vital scientific fields and discoveries that are unimaginable in our current reality. And, of course, there will be exciting and revolutionary technologies that will transform society for generations to come.

The Conference

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering hopes to begin a dynamic and engaging forum to engage engineers, architects, students and faculty, and others in the following:

  1. To create a thoughtful vision of what the 22nd century built environment might look like
  2. To articulate key technological barriers we will have to transcend on the path to the 22nd century
  3. To identify the underlying scientific questions that must be answered to enable essential technological advances.

We've invited thought leaders from around the world in a number of key areas (e.g., futurists, architects, construction, transportation, government and higher education), organized in a sequence of topic-focused panel discussions and keynote addresses.

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