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Engineering  |  Entrepreneurship + Innovation

NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering Speaker Series

About NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering Speaker Series

In partnership with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), the Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) at Arizona State University (ASU) invite you to an engaging speaker series, focusing on the fourteen Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century and applying an entrepreneurial mindset. Esteemed speakers from across the nation will come to ASU to share their expertise in their field, discuss the grand challenges our world faces, and answer probing questions on what can be done.

Open to all ASU students, GCSP students, and anyone else interested in learning more about the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering.

Randolph J. Nudo, Ph.D


Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 3pm MST (Add to Calendar)


BioDesign Building B (BDB) | Auditorium (Map)


Register here!

Re-engineering Damaged Brains

Is there a way to heal damage after a stroke? Can we engineer bridges between neural pathways in the brain?

As a result of brain injury, as might occur in stroke or trauma, not only is brain tissue lost, but widespread disruption occurs in the remaining neural connections. Emerging technological approaches that re-engineer connections within the brain using novel electronic interfaces, may be able to orchestrate the rewiring of the injured brain. However, substantial technical and biological hurdles need to be overcome to bring the promise of technology-based brain repair to reality.

Randolph J. Nudo, Ph.D. is a University Distinguished Professor and Vice Chairman of Research in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, and the Marion Merrell Dow Distinguished Professor in Aging at the Kansas University Medical Center. He is also the Director of the Landon Center on Aging and the Director of the Institute for Neurological Discoveries. He is a leading authority on neuroplasticity and recovery after brain injury, and is recognized internationally for his work on the effects of physiotherapy on functional plasticity after stroke. This work has been funded by NIH for over three decades. He currently holds other grants from the Department of Defense and private foundations for his research in traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. Dr. Nudo is the Editor-in-Chief of Neurorehabilitation & Neural Repair, a leading journal in the field of rehabilitation, and has recently served on the National Advisory Board for Medical Rehabilitation Research at NIH-NICHD. In addition to continuing fundamental research on post-stroke neuroplasticity, he and his colleagues are now developing microimplantable devices for repairing neural circuits after brain and spinal cord injury.

Can’t make it in person? Register to get the Livestream link!

Past Speakers & Videos

Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure

Dr. Edward Kavazanjian, Jr. is a Regents Professor and the Ira A. Fulton Professor of Geotechnical Engineering. He joined the faculty at Arizona State University in August 2004 after 20 years as a practicing civil engineer. Dr. Kavazanjian has Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Civil Engineering from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In August 2015, he became Director of the Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG) at ASU, a National Science Foundation-funded Engineering Research Center dedicated to the emerging sub-discipline of biogeotechnical engineering.



Provide Global Access to Sanitation and Clean Water

Dr. Jeremy Guest is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). His research focuses on the development of technologies for sustainable water and sanitation, with a focus on resource recovery from bodily excreta in technologically advanced and developing communities. Dr. Guest serves as the Sustainable Design Lead for the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Sustainability Lead for the Soybean Innovation Lab funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). He is the recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, the 2016 recipient of the Paul L. Busch Award for innovation in applied water quality research from the Water Research Foundation, and a Beckman Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study at UIUC. His research has been sponsored by a number of agencies including the NSF, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. DOE, the USAID, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Guest’s formal training includes a B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering from Bucknell University and Virginia Tech, respectively, and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of Michigan.



Low-cost solar energy is here, what’s next?

Dr. Nate Siegel is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Bucknell University. He has over a decade of research experience developing concentrating solar power and fuel production technologies. Recently, Dr. Siegel was a team member on the SunShot-funded Falling Particle Receiver project, and also advised a student who designed and built a novel high-flux solar simulator used for thermochemical reactor testing. Prior to coming to Bucknell, Dr. Siegel worked at Sandia National Labs in the Solar Technologies group on projects including high temperature receiver development, solar fuels, and molten salt heat transfer fluid synthesis and testing.



Connected Humanitarianism, Affordable Med-tech and the Future of Global Health

Dr. Dayaprasad Kulkarni has over a decade of experience in creating innovative solutions to healthcare problems for populations underserved by capitalist healthcare systems. He is a founding trustee of Sunbird Trust which helps bring peace to Northeast India through education and a founding trustee of Ayang trust which addresses educational, healthcare and livelihood challenges in Assam, India. He is the founder and director of Aarogya Seva: Global Health Volunteer Alliance, a transnational, not-for-profit, micro-volunteering platform that provides marginalized individuals and communities with access to local, sustainable, quality, and comprehensive healthcare for low or no cost. He has advised several startups to rethink public health problems through technology solutions. Among these health-tech initiatives are Taal, India’s first low-cost digital stethoscope; Tech4Health, an open innovation micro-volunteering platform, Sushruta Med-Tech Incubator and Enabler, MyCliniCare which brings digital breast cancer screening to your doorstep; HeartWare, a handheld EKG device; WellBeeing Integrative Medicine clinic; and 3D Usher, a 3D designing and manufacturing service.



Learn to Not Fear the Dragon: Using AR/VR to Understand Complex Problems

Dennis Bonilla is the Chief Technology Officer for Baltu Studios. With 20 years of technology experience, Mr. Bonilla has helped create data visualization software and decision support systems for NASA and other U.S. agencies and has served in roles supporting committees advising U.S. President Barack Obama about options for future human space flight. At Baltu Studios, Dennis is creating immersive tools to enhance human capabilities. Baltu Studios leverages AR/VR/XR to help companies understand and solve complex problems. Dennis has spoken on space and science at SXSWi, IGN HQ, Phoenix Comicon, the ONA Annual Conference, and Star Wars Celebration, and has collaborated with the Center for Science and the Imagination on projects exploring science fiction and the future. Dennis also co-hosts the popular monthly Phoenix VR For Good Meetup.



Human Systems Engineering and its Role in the Grand Challenges

Nancy J. Cooke is a professor of Human Systems Engineering at Arizona State and directs ASU’s Center for Human, AI, and Robot Teaming, and the Advanced Distributed Learning DOD Partnership Lab. She received her PhD in Cognitive Psychology from New Mexico State University in 1987. Dr. Cooke is the Past President of the Human Factors and Ergonomics and recently chaired a study panel for the National Academies on the Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science. Dr. Cooke was a member of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory board from 2008-2012. Dr. Cooke’s research interests include the study of individual and team cognition and its application to the development of cognitive and knowledge engineering methodologies, human-robot teaming, cyber security, intelligence analysis, remotely-piloted aircraft systems, healthcare systems, and emergency response systems. Dr. Cooke specializes in the development, application, and evaluation of methodologies to elicit and assess individual and team cognition. Her work is funded primarily by DoD.



Social Personalized Learning Technologies

Erin Walker is an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, with appointments in the School of Computing and Information and the Learning Research and Development Center. She completed her PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University in 2010. Her research uses interdisciplinary methods to improve the design and implementation of educational technology, and to understand when and why it is effective. She works on projects that incorporate social and contextual adaptation into learning environments, including implementing a teachable robot for mathematics learning and developing an intelligent tutoring system to help parents and children read together. Walker’s work has resulted in many journal articles and peer-reviewed full conference papers, including a best paper award at Creativity and Cognition and award nominations at the Intelligent Tutoring Systems, Artificial Intelligence in Education, and Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning conferences. She was named to Phoenix Magazine’s 40 under 40 list in 2018.