NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Alumni
  • Rebecca Thoss
    University of Southern California, 2018, B.S. Chemical Engineering w/Emphasis in Nanotechnology and Minor in Economics

    “Part of what attracted me to USC's Viterbi School of Engineering was the emphasis on Engineering+, which is the idea of being more than just an engineer, but a multi-faceted student. Viterbi encouraged me to pursue my interests in ...

  • Alexina Boudreaux-Allen
    University of Southern California, 2019, B.S. Computer Science

    “Through the GCSP, I have been enabled to discover and pursue my passion for advancing individualized learning through technology. This program has also inspired me to continue my interests in varying topics such as engineering, music, ...

  • Emma Palmer
    Duke University, 2019, B.S. Environmental Engineering w/Minor in Chemistry and Certificate in Global Development Engineering

    “GCSP was an essential part of my college career as it helped me focus my experiences around a core theme - providing access to clean water. GCSP motivated me and gave me the resources to take part in international humanitarian work and ...

  • Alexis Barge
    University of Southern California, 2019, B.S. Environmental Engineering

    Alexis Barge will be returning as a Masters student at USC in Fall 2019.   

    “My global challenge was providing access to clean water. The research project I worked on focused on increasing biogas production from the ...

  • Alex Strasser
    Texas A&M University, 2020 (Class of 2019), B.S. Chemical Engineering w/Minors in Physics and Materials Science

    “The GCSP has truly set me up for success in exploring fundamental physics phenomena in nanomaterials during graduate studies. My Grand Challenge research project enabled me to present at multiple research conferences and publish multiple ...


The NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering, created in 2008, presented an aspirational vision of what engineering needs to deliver to all people on the planet in the 21st century. In just 15 words, the vision it calls for is:

“Continuation of life on the planet,
making our world more sustainable, secure, healthy, and joyful.”

The century-spanning vision was based on 14 GOALS that the NAE recognized as necessary to deliver this vision in the 21st century.

Numerous engineering schools and K-12 programs have adopted the NAE Grand Challenges to inspire practical projects for their students through an educational supplement called the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP), which identifies the following five competencies that students must achieve to prepare to address these global challenges:

  1. Talent Competency: mentored research/creative experience on a Grand Challenge-like topic
  2. Multidisciplinary Competency: understanding multidisciplinarity of engineering systems solutions developed through personal engagement
  3. Viable Business/Entrepreneurship Competency: understanding, preferably developed through experience, of the necessity of a viable business model for solution implementation
  4. Multicultural Competency: understanding different cultures, preferably through multicultural experiences, to ensure cultural acceptance of proposed engineering solutions
  5. Social Consciousness Competency: understanding that engineering solutions should primarily serve people and society reflecting social consciousness


Addressing any of the Grand Challenges for Engineering naturally spans multiple disciplines, and because solutions are implemented differently in different parts of the world, the program prepares students to think in international terms and to develop globally relevant perspectives and skills. 

The GCSP was inspired by the NAE but is not controlled by the academy. Each adopting university, college, and school is independently drawn to the program—often by its students—and defines its own supplemental approach to preparing students in the five competencies within its existing engineering program. Each institution selects its students, determines their attainment of the competencies, and decides how it will recognize their achievement.

For more information on the GCSP, please contact Sherri Hunter (SHUNTER@NAE.EDU) or GCSP Proposal Review Committee Chair Katie Evans (KEVANS@LATECH.EDU).

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