National Academy of Engineering’s "Grand Challenges for Engineering project is designed to spark public discussion and awareness that engineering is essential to addressing current and emerging societal issues. Meeting the challenges will require the support of the public and policy makers. As we stand about a month before the U.S. presidential election, we hope to inspire an informed conversation about the hurdles of public backing and policy issues that stand in the way of addressing the Grand Challenges for Engineering."
On Oct 6, 2008, they hosted a very interesting event that is available via podcast.
Needless to say, one of the grand challenges is: "Reverse-engineer the brain".