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The electric grid is transforming into an instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent energy distribution system. Numerous technological innovations will be required to enable the smart grid. These will come from many fields and disciplines including modeling, analytics, optimization, security, silicon technology and physical science, and real world aware systems of systems. In this paper, we will focus on describing the smart grid and strategic technical challenges of smart grid enablement from a research perspective. Collaboration among utilities, governments, industries, and academia will be essential in the design and implementation of the smart grid. We will briefly describe examples of collaborative projects which have developed solutions for some of the technical challenges we have described in this paper.