Grand Challenges for Engineering

Throughout history, engineering has driven the advance of civilization. As populations grow and our needs and desires expand, sustaining civilization’s continuing advancement while still improving the quality of life becomes more challenging. In each of the broad categories defined by the National Academy of Engineering—sustainability, health, security, and joy of living—many of our most important grand challenges await engineering solutions. National Instruments empowers its customers to create systems that improve the world and address these challenges of today, as well as those yet to come.


Today’s engineers must determine methods for sustaining resources such as clean water and energy, as well as maintaining and improving infrastructure to support civilization. NI customers address these challenges worldwide every day, from developing novel and more economical solar system configurations to creating innovative solutions for monitoring the health of our infrastructures to ensure safety or preserve historic buildings.

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Anyone who goes to the doctor or takes a medication benefits from the work of engineers. The unique combination of basic biomedical science paired with engineering and physical science is necessary to create powerful tools and techniques that address pressing medical problems. NI customers expand the scope of the world’s medical knowledge and capabilities using advance platform technology to research new treatment types for diabetes, test drug quality, and implement a revolutionary cancer treatment.

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The need for technologies that protect society from a variety of threats, from nuclear attacks or accidents to massive security breaches in cyber space, is growing. Using NI technology, companies are building robotic systems to handle jobs that are unsafe for humans, such as nuclear decommissioning and explosive detection. Additionally, NI customers are building applications to analyze and help secure the radio spectrum by providing technology to develop spectral monitoring and signal intelligence systems.

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Joy of Living

Products and processes that enhance the joy of living remain a top priority of engineering innovation. For example, the development of true virtual reality creates the illusion of actually being in a different space, which can be used for medical training, off-road vehicle testing, or entertainment. Additionally, NI platforms are a critical part in the test process for many of the products we frequently use to enhance our lives, including laptops, Blu-ray disc players, in-vehicle entertainment systems, and bicycles.

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