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Our vision—Columbia Engineering for Humanity—sets a bold path for a sustainable, healthy, secure, connected, and creative humanity. It is exemplified by the pioneering work our faculty and students are doing across departments and disciplines, in partnership with sister schools, institutes, government, and industry.

Areas of Impact

SUSTAINABLE HUMANITY

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How can the earth support a projected population of 9 billion people in 2050? How do we balance the desire for a high quality of life with the preservation of ecological functions critical to our planet’s survival? This is a fundamental challenge that we must collectively address to achieve a sustainable global society. Success will require rethinking our systems for production and consumption of food, air, energy, water, transportation, and communications.

Climate | Energy | Mining | Urban | Water

 

HEALTHY HUMANITY

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The global average life expectancy of the human population has more than doubled since 1900, much of it due to rapid advances in medical technologies. The concept of managing health and wellness in a highly precise and personalized manner is now emerging—for the health of individuals as well as for the public health of populations. As technology development makes health and wellness more personalized, precise, interactive, and focused on a holistic view of the patient, we will make critical advances in improving human health.

Biology | Food | Medicine | Water

 

SECURE HUMANITY

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Catastrophic systemic failures, such as the subprime market crisis, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and more frequent superstorms like Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey draw our attention to the vulnerability and fragility of complex systems in different domains. Theses failures arise from incomplete or uncertain understanding and knowledge of various parameters and interactions in a dynamically evolving environment, both natural and human engineered. Online connected systems such as social media, Internet of Things, and Cyber Physical Systems also require assurance of cybersecurity and protection of privacy. To better manage the inherent risks, we need to understand, model, design, predict, control, and optimize the dynamics and behavior of such systems.

Cyber | Financial | Food | Hazards

 

CONNECTED HUMANITY

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Information has been a critical driver of progress throughout human history. Today, technology is enabling an exponential increase in our connectivity with one another, with devices, and with our external environment. At the same time, we are witnessing an explosion in data related to all areas of human life, from our immune system and the structure of the universe to energy usage in our homes and workplaces, and even our social and emotional lives as played out in social media. Harvesting this data to improve the human experience, while securing privacy and cybersecurity, will require progress in many areas, including developing new sensors and methodologies to collect data, new devices to improve connectivity with one another and the world, and new algorithms to extract and verify insights from this wealth of information.

 

CREATIVE HUMANITY

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Engineering, at its heart, is a creative field. It is marked by hands-on, immersive, learning-by-doing. Engineering also invents new tools and techniques to propel creativity in other fields. As we develop more "maker" spaces and create more opportunities to bring together and promote interactions among diverse people and disciplines, as well as further integrate our teaching and scholarship with the humanities, social sciences, architecture, business and beyond, we create an environment in which creativity and innovation flourish.

 

Foundational Areas

Our engineering impact is underscored and driven by our commitment to discovery and frontier research. The breakthrough solutions of tomorrow come from the highly exploratory research of today. Transcending disciplinary boundaries leads to the discovery of revolutionary new materials, devices, processes, algorithms, and models, as well as tools and techniques.