Press release: Singularity University projects to address “Humanity’s Grand Challenges”

August 26, 2009

Graduate Studies Student Teams Address Global Problems through Scientific, Technological Collaboration and Innovation

Inaugural Graduate Studies Program Concludes with Team Presentations to the Singularity University Community, Closing Ceremonies at Moffett Field

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – August 26, 2009 – Following an intensive nine-week graduate-level interdisciplinary program, Singularity University (SU) today announced that University’s Graduate Studies Program (GSP) student team projects will be unveiled at the August 27 presentation to SU faculty and staff and leaders from the Silicon Valley community in an open academic exercise.

SU is also pleased to announce Graduate Studies Program Closing Ceremonies will begin at 3pm PT on Friday, August 28, at NASA Ames Research Park, Moffett Field, California. Key members of NASA will present closing remarks to the inaugural GSP class, as will SU co-founders Dr. Peter H. Diamandis and Dr. Ray Kurzweil, and student representatives. The live stream and archive video of the Closing Ceremonies can be viewed at beginning at 3pm PT on August 28.

“The vision for Singularity University is based on the realities and benefits of the exponentially accelerating technologies needed to address the major challenges facing the world today, and coming tomorrow,” said Dr. Ray Kurzweil, co-founder and chancellor of Singularity University. “The inaugural class of students and the inter-disciplinary curriculum successfully executed on the mission we envisioned as demonstrated by the initial project concepts developed by the students. It’s clear that Singularity University is fostering the next cadre of leaders to take the world beyond the curve.”

From Vision to Reality

The “Ten to the Ninth Power” (10^9) team project challenged the 40 GSP students to consider how one billion people could be affected within the next 10 years, by harnessing the power of the convergence of accelerating technologies to address one or more of “humanity’s grand challenges,” such as climate change and poverty. Through the final four weeks of the program, teams of 10 students tackled their chosen challenges and emerged with new concepts taking into account project technological developments in multiple disciplines, supported by demonstrated market need and rational business models.

“It’s been such a pleasure and learning experience working with the students over the past nine weeks, and diving into the flood of ideas produced from the group,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, co-founder of Singularity University. “The team project was quite challenging. From around the globe, these students truly are the world’s future leaders, as demonstrated by the initial concepts they have created to address some of the major issues facing the world today. Together, they have shown the power and innovation of the collective wisdom to affect major challenges. I’m sure we’ll continue to see great things from the inaugural class.”

The team projects will include the following reports:

  • One Global Voice leverages mobile phone proliferation to accelerate economic development. It envisions a platform that will provide a set of modular programming tools accessible through a web portal, empowering individuals to create applications empowering education and commerce, linking together the developed and developing worlds.
  • Gettaround addresses how an intelligent transportation grid can positively affect energy usage and slow climate change, as people value access over ownership of cars. The first step to the grid, Gettaround is a marketplace for peer-to-peer leasing of under-utilized car hours. It enables car owners to derive revenue from their idle cars, and for renters to have easy access to cars – affordably and conveniently.
  • ACASA focuses on advances in rapid, additive manufacturing technologies to construct affordable and customizable housing in the developing world. Cost-efficient, environmentally sustainable solutions have the potential to create a transformative new paradigm for improving housing construction using local resources.
  • XIDAR considers a new paradigm for disaster response, allowing users to overcome the communications network problems typical of crisis situations. The project enables innovative solutions to facilitate evacuation, medical triage and aid during natural disasters.

“The inaugural Graduate Studies Program was a great journey following the impact of the convergence of science and technology,” said Salim Ismail, Executive Director of Singularity University. “The students’ level of energy, creativity, and innovation was unparalleled throughout the program. With a short runway, the team projects show great depth of thought and practical ability to affect change well beyond the typical boundaries. The inaugural GSP class is second-to-none, and I look forward to following their actions in the coming years.”

The Next Chapter

Singularity University will offer its inaugural, 9-day Mid-Level management program beginning November 7, 2009. Dates for the inaugural 3-day C-Level executive program will be announced later this year. Interested candidates can submit applications and find additional information at