NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Alumni
  • Daniel Donchev
    University of Southern California, 2019, B.S. Biomedical Engineering (Electrical)

    Daniel Donchev also received a M.S. in Engineering Management from the University of Southern California.

    “The program has helped me realize the great responsibility that engineers have to solve some of the most pressing challenges our ...

  • 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 ...

  • Connor Ganley
    University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2019, B.S. Chemical Engineering

     "Being part of the GCSP showed me many ways that a keen student with a curious mind can work toward addressing problems on the global scale. I am motivated to apply the skill set I developed from a chemical engineering curriculum to my ...

  • Diana Chumak
    Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018, B.S. Environmental Engineering w/Minor in Global Leadership Engineering

    “Through the Grand Challenges Scholar Program, I conducted a rapid urban water quality assessment in Cochabamba, Bolivia with a team of 10 students in collaboration with the World Resources Institute's 200 cities project. Data collected ...

  • Margaret Ahmann
    University of North Dakota, 2019, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

    "Without GCSP, I would have never been introduced to the Materials Science Lab at UND that I spent two years working at in my undergrad. My grand challenges were improving carbon sequestration technology and providing access to clean water. To ...


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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