The Frontiers of Engineering program brings together through 2-1/2 day meetings a select group of emerging engineering leaders from industry, academe, and government labs to discuss pioneering technical work and leading edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors. The goal of the meetings is to introduce these outstanding early career engineers to each other, and through this interaction facilitate collaboration in engineering, the transfer of new techniques and approaches across fields, and establishment of contacts among the next generation of engineering leaders.


  • Prasanth Ananth
    Technical Staff
    Nokia Bell Labs

    My current research focuses on aerial/ground robots, wearable devices, and other cyber-physical systems that are supported by cloud computing and that operate over advanced wireless communication networks.

    The FOE symposium is unique from traditional conferences in that it brings together top experts from diverse fields, which fosters an opportunity to create new connections, trigger ideas in fundamentally new and exciting directions, and collaborate with top engineers and innovators who are like-minded.  

  • Bouchra Bouqata
    Senior Analytics Product Manager
    GE Global Research

    I lead programs in large-scale automated-intelligent big data machine learning and artificial intelligence systems for prognostics, diagnostics, and monitoring of industrial assets.

  • Marco Pavone
    Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    Stanford University

    I develop methodologies for the analysis, design, and control of autonomous systems, with an emphasis on self-driving vehicles, autonomous aerospace vehicles, and large-scale robotic networks.

    The FOE allowed me to expand my professional network. Most importantly, the FOE allowed me to establish new interdisciplinary collaborations that catalyzed my research on space robotics. 

  • Katherine Davis
    Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering
    Texas A&M University

    My research interests include data-enhanced power system modeling and analysis, security-oriented cyberphysical techniques for studying the interdependencies of electrical and cyber infrastructures, and making algorithms more robust with respect to untrustworthy inputs.

    FOE was valuable because I was able to interact with young and innovative engineering leaders, and we were able to share ideas with each other in a way that I expect will have a big impact on advancing the state of the art across many domains of engineering in the US. For example, I am partnering with an engineer I met there on a Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grant that seeds our collaboration on situational awareness-based resilient response for cyber-physical systems.

  • Adam Engler
    Professor and Vice-Chair of Bioengineering
    University of California, San Diego

    We examine stem cell mechanobiology, i.e., the influence of intrinsic environmental properties (e.g., stiffness) on a cell’s decision to become one type of tissue or another. We mostly direct stem cells to become skeletal and cardiac muscle for therapeutic applications.

    The FOE symposium was an outstanding opportunity to learn about many disparate disciplines of engineering and to brainstorm how my research could interact with or benefit from these areas. I developed a new perspective on several topics and networked with leaders in academia and industry, subsequently exploring new collaborative opportunities.

  • Laura Espinal
    Materials Research Engineer
    National Institute of Standards and Technology

    I research functional materials for sustainable technologies and materials sustainability, including solid-state sorbents for environmental applications like carbon capture, gas separation materials, and rational and accelerated design of materials through an integrated computational and experimental approach.

    The FOE program allowed me to meet accomplished and diverse researchers working on interesting topics outside my area of expertise. The entire event was enlightening and intellectually-stimulating in a big way. What impressed me the most was the sense of creativity reflected by everyone’s research both on and off stage. The whole experience left me with a much broader view of different sectors working together towards a much bigger goal. My experience at the FOE motivated me to leave the bench recently for a very unique opportunity - a one year detail at my organization's program coordination office where I will take a "30,000-foot" view of the entire organization, further my understanding of major programs, and solve problems outside my comfort zone.

  • Features

  • News + Events

    • November 12, 2018
      Cornell University's Hadas Kress-Gazit (USFOE 2014) is engineering a modular robot system that can perceive its surroundings and autonomously assume different shapes suited to the task at hand.
    • November 8, 2018
      Samuel Mao (GAFOE 2008) at the University of California, Berkeley has engineered a new photocatalyst synthesis method that can efficiently decompose water into oxygen and hydrogen using solar light. Hydrogen is growing in popularity as an ecofriendly energy source that can help reduce the air pollution and global warming from other energy sources.
    • November 5, 2018
      Carnegie Mellon University's Christopher Bettinger (USFOE 2011) is engineering an ingestible, electrical method to control the timing of orally-delivered medications. At a precisely-determined moment, all of the medicine can be let loose simultaneously, enabling deposit anywhere in the digestive tract.
    • November 1, 2018
      Purdue University's Kenneth Sandhage (JAFOE 2000) is engineering ceramic-metal plates for heat transfer at higher temperatures and at elevated pressures that would make electricity generation from the sun’s heat more efficient.
    • October 29, 2018
      FOE alum Ken Goldberg at the University of California, Berkeley reports in a study that rather than replace human thinking, AI has the potential to enhance collective intelligence and intellectual diversity, allowing human workers to do more diverse thinking, become more efficient, and undertake more creative, fulfilling labor.
    • October 25, 2018
      The University of Texas at Austin's Guihua Yu (USFOE 2015) is developing a portable, inexpensive, and easy-to-use electronic tag to send wireless alerts to smartphones when a telltale gas is emitted by rotten food.
    • October 18, 2018
      The University of Maryland's Jordan Boyd-Graber (USFOE 2017) says his development of QANTA, an artificial intelligence question-answer system, helped him get chosen as a contestant for the ultimate answer-and-question showdown: Jeopardy!
    • October 15, 2018
      FOE alum Michael McAlpine at the University of Minnesota has engineered a bionic eye prototype using a new 3D-printed device. This adds to the other bionic body parts his team has already created, including a bionic ear, artificial organs for surgeons to practice on, bionic skin, and materials with potential to help people with spinal cord injuries regain function.
    • October 8, 2018
      FOE alum and NAE member Gregory Deierlein at Stanford recommends systematic reassessment of many of San Francisco's older steel-frame skyscrapers when they are renovated or change owners or tenants and consider regulations mandating that buildings are twice as stiff.
    • October 3, 2018
      FOE alum and NAE member Frances Arnold at Caltech, who was a speaker at the first US FOE in 1995, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her pioneering experiments in directed evolution, which harnesses the power of evolution to create biofuels, make more effective pharmaceuticals, and even create more environmentally friendly detergents.
    • October 1, 2018
      FOE alum Nancy Amato at Texas A&M discusses how men outnumber women nearly 2-to-1 in STEM roles on TV and in movies, which may discourage girls from careers in engineering and technology.
    • September 27, 2018
      Stanford's Shanhui Fan (JAFOE 2014) has been able to power a moving light bulb, with the ultimate goal of developing wireless energy transfer to vehicles.
    • September 20, 2018
      Purdue University's Pablo Zavattieri (USFOE 2014) is studying how super-resilient materials found in the animal kingdom owe their strength and toughness to a design strategy that causes cracks to follow the twisting pattern of fibers, preventing catastrophic failure.
    • September 17, 2018
      By manipulating DNA, MIT's Timothy Lu (CAFOE 2017) is bioengineering microbes that, once ingested, work to treat a rare genetic condition — a milestone in synthetic biology.
    • September 13, 2018
      Spencer Lake (USFOE 2018) at Washington University in St. Louis engineered a camera inspired by the Mantis shrimp that captures images of the microscopic structure of elbow ligaments.
    • August 31, 2018
      Caltech's Azita Emami (USFOE 2017) is engineering low-power, energy-efficient ways for the information world to interface with the physical world, including an implantable device that can relay real-time glucose readings to a wearable reader.
    • August 27, 2018
      Yale's Hui Cao (GAFOE 2010) is engineering D-shaped lasers designed to eradicate instabilities that can limit their usage in materials processing, large-scale displays, laser surgery, and LiDar.
    • August 20, 2018
      FOE alum Jeff Sakamoto at the University of Michigan is engineering a new rechargeable battery technology that could double the output of current lithium ion cells, an advance that promises to extend electric vehicle ranges and the time between mobile phone charges.
    • August 13, 2018
      FOE alum Aydogan Ozcan at UCLA is developing new opportunities to use an artificial intelligence-based passive device to instantaneously analyze data and images to classify objects.
    • August 9, 2018
      MIT's Hadley Sikes (USFOE 2017) has engineered a new sensor that sees inside cancer cells to determine whether they are responding to a particular type of chemotherapy drug.
    • August 6, 2018
      FOE alum Mona Jarrahi at UCLA has engineered a photodetector that operates across a broad range of light, processes images more quickly, and is more sensitive than current technology to low levels of light, with applications in night vision, medical diagnostics, and environmental sensing technologies.
    • August 2, 2018
      Sameer Sonkusale (USFOE 2015) at Tufts University has engineered a prototype smart bandage designed to actively monitor chronic wounds and even deliver drug treatments, which will particularly help patients who are older, non-ambulatory, and limited in their ability to provide self-care.
    • July 30, 2018
      Jeannette Garcia (USFOE 2015) at IBM Almaden Research Center is working on ways to “upcycle” plastics, breaking them down into new types of monomers to enable the ability to take something like the plastic that is used for soda bottles (polyethylene terephthalate, or PET) and turn it into the plastic used for high-performance products, like airplane parts.
    • July 26, 2018
      MIT's Sangbae Kim (USFOE 2016) has engineered a robotic cheetah that is able to climb stairs and gallop across rough terrain without using cameras or any other visual sensors. Instead, it “feels” its way through its surroundings, with potential applications for exploring disaster zones and other dangerous or inaccessible environments.
    • July 23, 2018
      FOE alum and NAE member Samir Mitragotri at Harvard is developing advances leading to the delivery of blood-sugar-regulating hormones in a pill, long regarded as the “holy grail” of diabetes treatment.
    • June 28, 2018
      Eighty-four of the nation’s brightest young engineers have been selected to take part in the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 24th annual US Frontiers of Engineering (USFOE) symposium.
    • June 25, 2018
      FOE alum and NAE member Sangeeta Bhatia at MIT has engineered malaria in dormant form, which is resistant to most antimalarial drugs and can reawaken months or years later, causing disease relapse. Learning about the biology of these dormant parasites could help lead to the development of drugs that target them.
    • June 21, 2018
      FOE alum and NAE member Zhigang Suo at Harvard University is engineering materials with bonding capability built-in rather than needing a separate agent to bond, which will better enable electrical devices to mimic the function of muscle, skin, and other tissues.
    • June 18, 2018
      FOE alum and NAE member Dina Katabi at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) uses AI to teach wireless devices to sense people’s postures and movement, even from the other side of a wall.
    • June 14, 2018
      FOE alum Tina Salguero at the University of Georgia has contributed to the development of prototype devices made of an exotic material that can conduct a current density 50 times greater than conventional copper interconnect technology.
    • June 11, 2018
      NC State's Michael Escuti (USFOE 2012) has developed a light diffraction technology that allows for more light input and greater efficiency, an advance that could lead to more immersive augmented reality displays.
    • June 7, 2018
      FOE alum He (Helen) Huang at NC State and UNC at Chapel Hill has developed a generic musculoskeletal model that takes the place of an amputee’s missing muscles, joints, and bones to generate control signals for prosthetics.
    • June 4, 2018
      MIT's Timothy Lu (CAFOE 2017) has engineered an ingestible pill that senses signs of disease inside the body, then sends a wireless alert to a phone.
    • May 31, 2018
      FOE alum Carmel Majidi at Carnegie Mellon University has created a self-repairing material — composed of liquid metal droplets suspended in a soft rubber — that can spontaneously repair itself after sustaining extreme mechanical damage.
    • May 24, 2018
      FOE alum Andrea Armani at the University of Southern California has developed a portable optical diagnostics system prototype to detect malaria, which primarily impacts low-resource environments where supply chain management is difficult and access to power can be unreliable.
    • May 21, 2018
      Rice University's Richard Baraniuk (EU-US FOE 2010) has made a microscope mounted on a microchip small enough to sit on a fingertip, and yet capable of micron resolution. The FlatScope could work inside the body as an endoscope, and as a bonus, could be very inexpensive.
    • May 17, 2018
      FOE alum Ali Khademhosseini at UCLA has developed a technique that uses a specially adapted 3D printer to build therapeutic biomaterials from multiple materials. The advance could be a step toward on-demand printing of complex artificial tissues for use in transplants and other surgeries.
    • May 14, 2018
      Rice University's Matteo Pasquali (USFOE 2008) has developed a method to quickly produce fibers from microscopic carbon nanotubes.
    • May 10, 2018
      MIT's John Hart (USFOE 2010) has developed a reel-to-reel technique for making graphene film, which could be particularly useful for making filtration membranes.
    • May 7, 2018
      Gregg Beckham (USFOE 2017) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory solved the crystal structure of PETase, an enzyme that digests polyethylene terephthalate (PET). In the process, he engineered an even better enzyme that could lead to a recycling solution for the millions of tons of plastic bottles, which will remain in the environment for hundreds of years.
    • April 30, 2018
      FOE alum Hussam Mahmoud at Colorado State University created a dynamic mathematical model that integrates a community's infrastructural, social, and economic features to quantify, in space and time, how well a community would withstand a major shakeup such as a natural disaster like a flood or a social disruption like the Arab Spring in 2011.
    • April 26, 2018
      Drexel University's Michele Marcolongo (USFOE 2007) has bioengineered devices that are commercially sold or are in clinical trials. To bring other budding academic entrepreneurs along, she has published an easy-to-read roadmap for translating technology to a product launch.
    • April 23, 2018
      Jeff Karp (USFOE 2007) at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital has bioengineered a soft, flexible hydrogel that can be loaded with arthritis drugs and injected locally into an inflamed joint to treat unpredictable and often sudden worsening of arthritis symptoms, which can be debilitating.
    • April 19, 2018
      MIT's Sara Seager (USFOE 2015) worked on the team that developed the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, bristling with cameras and ambition to scan for alien worlds, that launched April 18 on a SpaceX Falcon 9, taking the torch from Kepler.
    • April 16, 2018
      Khurram Afridi (USFOE 2017) at the University of Colorado Boulder is engineering wireless power transfer of electrical energy through electric fields at very high frequencies.
    • April 12, 2018
      Toyota's Debasish Banerjee (USFOE 2015) developed “omnidirectional” structural color, a unique and colorless nanostructure that reflects or absorbs certain wavelengths of light and does not change when viewed from different angles.
    • April 9, 2018
      NAE member David Sedlak (IAFOE 2010) at UC Berkeley notes that Californians are becoming more accepting of recycled water to help manage the effects of droughts and climate change.
    • April 5, 2018
      Joshuah Stolaroff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is studying the impacts of replacing diesel-powered delivery trucks with drones.
    • April 2, 2018
      Philip Feng (USFOE 2013) at Case Western Reserve University is developing "drumheads" that will likely contribute to making the next generation of ultralow-power communications and sensory devices smaller and with greater detection and tuning ranges.
    • March 15, 2018
      Two Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants of $30,000 each have been awarded to attendees of the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 2017 US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium.
    • February 15, 2018
      Check out the list of 13 FOE alumni newly-elected as NAE members.
    • January 25, 2018
      Check out the list of 12 FOE alumni selected as NAI 2017 Fellows.
    • October 12, 2017
      Emmanuel Candès (EU-US FOE 2010) at Stanford University was among the 24 individuals recently named as MacArthur Fellows. With applications in healthcare, digital photography, radar imaging, and wireless communications, the framework he developed holds promise for phase retrieval, a problem arising in many applications such as crystallography, diffraction imaging (X-ray), and astronomical instrumentation.
    • September 7, 2017
      Amanda Randles (USFOE 2017), Jenna Wiens (JAFOE 2016), Phillipa Gill (GAFOE 2015), Franziska Roesner (USFOE 2015), and Suchi Saria (USFOE 2017) are among the inspiring and creative innovators selected this year for working on the most important emerging technologies across a broad spectrum of engineering fields.
    • July 17, 2017
      Tune in for the webcast beginning on July 19 of the 2017 Global Grand Challenges Summit (GGCS), which aims to spark global collaborations that lead to innovative ways of addressing critically important engineering challenges and inspiring the next generation of change makers.