NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

  • Haley Wohlever
    University of Rochester, 2019, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

    “My participation in the GCSP, which focused on the challenge of providing access to clean water, has irrevocably and favorably shaped my undergraduate years and continues to shape my future. I served as Project Lead for my university’s ...

  • Haley Meisburger
    University of Portland, 2019, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

    “As a Grand Challenge Scholar, I focused my work around the diverse aspects that contribute to the joy of living for individuals. Doing this allowed me to travel to a secondary school for girls in Malawi, install a toilet for a household in ...

  • Emma Luke
    University of Rochester, 2019, B.S. Biomedical Engineering

    "Being involved with the GCSP was a great way for me to connect many of my undergraduate experiences -- from conducting research on nanomembranes to volunteering in Honduras -- in ways I had not originally imagined. I am grateful to have ...

  • Taylor Weiskittel
    University of Tennessee, 2017, B.S. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering w/Biomolecular Concentration

    “GCSP formalized and directed my desire to be a truly multidisciplinary engineer. As a scholar, my main focus was research in fat metabolism diseases and designing advanced mass spectrometry instruments that could be used to better ...

  • Andrianna Ayiotis
    University of Southern California, 2017, B.S. Biomedical Engineering

    "I knew as soon as I heard about the Grand Challenges Scholars Program as a college freshman that I wanted to be a scholar and I planned accordingly. Working on my application inspired me to pursue a broad range of opportunities and to push my ...

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).

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