NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Alumni
  • Julia King
    Arizona State University, 2016, B.S. Chemical Engineering

    “My path in the Grand Challenges Scholars Program was an unprecedented way for me to keep an eye on the global issues in sustainability that I care most about while earning my chemical engineering degree that would gain me the knowledge to do ...

  • Akhila Murella
    Arizona State University, 2018, B.S. Computer Science w/Minors in Mathematics and Digital Culture

    “GCSP helped highlight the importance of having an interdisciplinary education and provided me with many opportunities to pursue research. My initial focus was health, and through GCSP, I was able to do research to improve a machine learning ...

  • James Shields
    Saint Louis University, 2016, B.S. Aerospace Engineering

    James Shields received his M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles in 2017. 

    “As an aerodynamicist on the X-60A Hypersonic Test Vehicle, I am able to fulfill my passion for advancing scientific discovery ...

  • C. Barker Carlock
    Lafayette College, 2017, B.S. Chemical Engineering

    “Through GCSP, I led a small start-up called Gel Labs that was working to commercialize novel water-based polymers for the agriculture, fishing, and marine habitat preservation sectors. This opportunity refined my professional interests by ...

  • Kanika Gakhar
    Texas A&M University, 2018, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering

    “The GCSP program helped me take an all-rounded approach during my undergraduate career by giving me a platform to network with students and mentors across campus and connecting me with opportunities to engage in research, entrepreneurship, ...


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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