NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Alumni
  • Willa Zhao
    University of Southern California, 2017, B.S. Computer Science/Business Administration

    “GCSP has helped guide the way I think about interdisciplinary studies. With a Computer Science background and interest in investments, I see a huge growth opportunity within money management. As the focus on investments increases combined ...

  • Joycelyn Yip
    University of Southern California, 2015, B.S. Biomedical Engineering w/Minor in Art History

    ”As a Grand Challenge Scholar, I built upon my engineering education - B.S. Biomedical Engineering, M.S. Mechanical Engineering - by pursuing diverse experiences outside of the classroom. With GCSP as a guide, I conducted cardiovascular ...

  • Naish Gaubatz
    University of Southern California, 2018, B.S. Aerospace Engineering

    “The GCSP program positively affected my technical breadth while studying engineering at USC by expanding my familiarity beyond aerospace engineering. A good engineer is not the smartest in the room, but the one who can formulate and ...

  • Karyn Saunders
    Duke University, 2018, B.S.E. Environmental Engineering

    “The Grand Challenge Scholar program was the perfect fit for my undergraduate career, confirming to me that engineering is more than just math classes and CAD. Through my work in Honduras that led to my thesis in the Providing Access to ...

  • Daniel Kawalsky
    University of Southern California, 2019, B.S. Computer Science

    "Prompted by GCSP to Enhance Virtual Reality, I created an application to test various means of locomoting in VR–that is, I made 6 "maps" in which a VR game player uses one of 3 different ways of getting ...


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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