McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University

the great intersection

Our world is changing at an accelerated pace, and the boundaries between disciplines are blurring. Under these dynamic conditions, we face global challenges at a scale never before seen. That's why we are building the McCormick School of Engineering at the great intersection: the intersection of global challenges and the knowledge required to solve them. Watch the video »

McCormick's Strategic Priorities

Building our Future

Using the great intersection as a framework to view our world, we are making strategic investments in research areas that will drive our progress in the coming years. These areas themselves intersect, and these focal points connect faculty throughout the school. At the core of our efforts is a commitment to create leaders who thrive at the great intersection. Please click on the graphic to the left to learn more about each of our strategic areas.

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Energy and Environment

As traditional energy sources diminish, we live in a time where tackling energy and environmental problems requires both finding new sources of energy and increasing the efficiency of our current sources, all while understanding and minimizing the effect on our environment. Finding answers to these problems requires insights from every discipline. There are no silver bullets — the challenges we face are intrinsically difficult and require broad vision and a balanced approach.

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Materials — the very substance of our universe — surround us, enable us, and constrain us. We are just now beginning to understand how these materials work at the most basic scale. From manipulating materials at the nanoscale to creating new ones using techniques culled from nature, at McCormick, we work to unlock the power of materials to solve problems across disciplines and to open avenues that were previously unimaginable.

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Health and Wellness

One of the grand challenges of our time is ensuring the health and wellness of all people. The problems we face are broad and complex, requiring new ways of thinking about healthcare, technology, and processes. Multidisciplinary teams of researchers who combine complementary specialties and thinking to study problems at all levels, from molecular changes to complex systems.

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Our world is increasingly complex and is changing at a rapid pace. The most pressing problems of our time involve vast amounts of information and multiple agents across a dizzying range of domains. Systems research offers a way to understand our world and the many interactions that shape it.

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Creating Leaders

At McCormick, we educate whole-brain™ leaders who thrive at the intersection of global challenges and the knowledge to solve them.

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The Intersection of Challenges and Knowledge

We begin with the great intersection: global challenges and the knowledge needed to solve them. This intersection provides a timeless framework through which to view the world and set our priorities.


Underlying all of our efforts is design, which permeates the curriculum. Our view of design is broad: it extends seamlessly from research and product design to systems design to design of services, and it includes such areas as health care systems, financial products, and architecture. Design offers a way to frame ideas, to better understand the world, and to identify the real problem behind the perceived problem.


(choose a research area to learn more)

How We ThinkWhole-brain/Collaboration/Balance

As we build the McCormick School of Engineering at the great intersection, we start with a solid foundation. Three core concepts shape the way we think: whole-brain engineering™, collaboration, and balance. As we prepare for the future, these concepts serve as our compass.

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Stories from the IntersectionInteractive Feature

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