NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

  • Michaela Rikard
    North Carolina State University, 2016, B.S. Biomedical Engineering

    “I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. The Grand Challenge Scholars Program and my trip to the White House helped me realize my passion for science policy and advocacy. Engineers and ...

  • Pooja Moolchandani
    University of Southern California, 2019, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering w/Computation Track

    “Participating in USC Viterbi’s Grand Challenges Hackathon introduced me to the various methods to contribute to global service and our society. Being a Scholar has helped me stay motivated while working in a Department or Defense ...

  • Sebastian Dziallas
    Olin College of Engineering, 2014, B.S. Engineering w/Concentration in Computing

    “The Grand Challenges Scholars Program at Olin College provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my learning experiences, including on my journey from volunteering in open source software communities to working on the Grand Challenges ...

  • Suraj Sehgal
    Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018, B.S. Industrial and Systems Engineering

    “GCSP helped to provide a network of like-minded changemakers. I had the opportunity to research food insecurity on college campuses, helping to write a white paper recommending policy changes to the Georgia Tech administration. Most ...

  • Marisol Luna Aguero
    Arizona State University, 2017, B.S.C.E. Civil (Environmental) Engineering

    "Through the GSCP I learned that my passion is in providing access to clean water. Since the beginning of my college career and continuing onto my professional career, this is what I have dedicated my time and energy into. The GSCP has allowed ...

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 or GCSP Proposal Review Committee Chair Katie Evans (KEVANS@LATECH.EDU).

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