NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

  • Washma Anwar
    Saint Louis University, 2018, B.S. Physics and Computer Engineering

    “Being a Grand Challenge Scholar encouraged me to combine multiple areas of study that were of interest to me, Physics and Computer Science, in order to tackle a bigger problem. Using coding as a tool to solve a physics problem was great ...

  • 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 ...

  • Katherine Warfel
    Bucknell University, 2017, B.S. Chemical Engineering

    “My undergraduate research focused on the Grand Challenge to Engineer better medicines by investigating improvements in small molecule pharmaceutical processing. The GCSP gave me a broader view of this challenge and helped me to realize ...

  • Kaleigh Durst
    Arizona State University, 2017, B.S. Chemical Engineering

    “My experience in GCSP has been a consistent source of motivation since the start of my undergraduate degree, through to my continued education & research at Caltech. It has reminded me daily to seek out the career path with the most ...

  • 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 ...

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).

Sponsored by