Jack Bauer and North Carolina College Students: Saving the World from Nuclear Annihilation

March 2, 2010

Maybe you didn’t understand me. This man is our only connection to a stolen nuclear warhead. If you don’t save him, millions of people could die! Do you understand that? Millions of people.
–Jack Bauer from the TV series, "24"

What:  Sure, Jack Bauer is saving the world from nuclear annihilation every Monday night, but engineers are the nuclear safety and security heroes of the real world. As the nation wrestles with nuclear threats and other societal challenges, the National Academy of Engineering, North Carolina State University and Duke University will assemble college students, academics and thought leaders from industry and government from around the nation for the Raleigh Grand Challenge Summit.

“Of the many possible scenarios for radiological terrorism, setting off a nuclear weapon is the most terrifying and would have enormous and terrible consequences,” said John F. Ahearne, vice chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and a speaker at the summit. “The US must develop means to guard against such an event.”

The event is designed to stimulate conversation and solutions around the NAE’s 14 “Grand Challenge” problems for the 21st century. Preventing nuclear terror is one of them. Media coverage is invited.

Who:  Bauer might be good at fighting the bad guys, but can he build a mobile electrosurgical unit? Students at the summit will do just that. They’ll also tour NC State’s on-campus nuclear reactor and vie for cash prizes in a design competition that challenges them to find ways to improve human well-being in the developing world. See the full schedule.

The summit will be emceed by Marshall Brain, founder of “How Stuff Works.” Speakers include Graham Allison, the author of several books including “Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe;” John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco; Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE; Kristina Johnson, U.S. undersecretary for energy; and U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware. Most of the speakers will be available for questions from the media.

When: March 3-5

Where: Most of the event will take place at the Raleigh Marriott City Center in downtown Raleigh, N.C. Student programs on March 3 will occur on the NC State campus.