NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Alumni
  • Nicole Naselaris
    University of Rochester, 2019, B.S. Optical Engineering

    Nicole Naselaris just finished working as a research assistant at the University of Rochester in the laboratory of Professor Wayne H. Knox, conducting research in the fields of biomedical optics and optics education. In September, she will begin a ...

  • Heather Martin
    Arizona State University, 2015, B.S. Electrical Engineering

    “My time in the Grand Challenge Scholars Program was incredible. I entered the GCSP at Arizona State University under the leadership of Dr. Ramakrishna, and the way he conveyed the purpose of the program so passionately really inspired me to ...

  • Evan Williams
    SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 2019, B.S. Environmental Resources Engineering

    “The Grand Challenge Scholars Program has helped me to synthesize my many unique college experiences and endeavors into a cohesive vision for the future of engineering. It offered me the opportunity to build on my sustainability-focused ...

  • Mingkun Chen
    University of Southern California, 2018, B.S. Electrical Engineering w/Minor in Chemistry

    “Engineering has always held a significant role in my life. From my first engineering project proposal to the Beijing government of setting up bus lanes to improve traffic when I was in middle school, to my undergraduate research experience ...

  • Stephanie Houser
    Bucknell University, 2016, B.S. Civil Engineering and B.A. International Relations

    “The GCSP helped me find ways to expand my knowledge outside of my field, where I found a passion for policy and service. This has led me to pursue work focusing on health risks due to break downs in water and sanitation infrastructure in 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 Sherri Hunter (SHUNTER@NAE.EDU) or GCSP Proposal Review Committee Chair Katie Evans (KEVANS@LATECH.EDU).

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