Duke University
Teer Engineering Building, Box 90271, Duke University, Durham , North Carolina 27708
Phone 1: 919-660-5386
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Founded 1939
Main Contacts
Jim Gaston Assistant Dean for Advising & Undergraduate Research Phone919-660-5996
Linda Franzoni Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Jim Gaston Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Research Phone919-660-5996
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About

The Thomas C. Katsouleas National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program at Duke seeks leaders with the drive to take on some of the biggest challenges facing humanity – and want to start while they are still undergraduates.

A Unique Educational Experience

The program educates young scholars with the technical expertise, breadth of knowledge and the social, ethical and environmental awareness to be leaders in the addressing the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering.

Grand Challenge Scholars embark on a unique educational journey that integrates five key themes:

  • A hands-on project or research experience related to one of the Grand Challenges
  • An interdisciplinary curriculum
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship experience
  • A global dimension
  • Service learning

Grand Challenge Scholars receive an exceptional undergraduate education experience  – and up to $5,000 toward the completion of the Grand Challenge Portfolio.

Students must design their portfolio to document a variety of experiences that cover the five key themes and are related to their Grand Challenge focus. Students must also submit a senior thesis and complete their portfolio prior to the end of their senior year. Students are supported by a faculty member who they select to serve as their advisor and mentor.

What are the Grand Challenges?

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has identified a list of 14 "Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century" that must be addressed in order to achieve a sustainable, economically robust, and politically stable future for our children and our children's children. 

These challenges range from the most basic of human needs to the extraordinary. Read more about the 14 Grand Challenges.

The Thomas C. Katsouleas National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program at Duke is named in honor of former Pratt dean Tom Katsouleas, who played a leadership role in founding and launching the Grand Challenge Scholars Program on a national scale.

Becoming a Grand Challenge Scholar

You can apply to be a Grand Challenge Scholar during the spring of your sophomore year. Before that, you can learn more about the program and benefit from Grand Challenge workshops and seminars. You'll really get to work on being a Grand Challenge Scholar in your Junior Year. Grand Challenge Scholar applications are due before the end of your sophomore year.

First Year

Attend Grand Challenge Scholars Program workshops and seminars
Learn more about the 14 Grand Challenges

Sophomore Year

  • Select a one of the 14 Grand Challenges that will be your area of focus
  • Get approval of a Pratt faculty professor, who will serve as your advisor
  • Working with your advisor, identify the classes, experiences, or activities that you have done since your first year at Duke, are doing presently, or plan before graduation to do as part of your Grand Challenge Scholar portfolio that include:
    • Research
    • Interdisciplinary curriculum
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Global
    • Service Learning
  • Identify a topic for your GC senior thesis. This is usually something related to your research activities.
  • Attend the Grand Challenge Scholar event in April on the Duke campus.
  • Review your portfolio and senior thesis topic with your advisor.
  • Submit your Grand Challenge application prior to end of your sophomore year.

Junior Year

  • If selected as a Grand Challenge Scholar, continue work on your portfolio under the supervision of your advisor
  • Present a written update to the Grand Challenge Schoolar committee in March (before Spring Break), and participate in the annual Grand Challenge Scholar event in April on the Duke campus.

Senior Year

  • Continue work on your portfolio under the supervision of your advisor
  • Present a written update to the Grand Challenge Scholar committee in January, and participate in the annual Grand Challenge Scholar event in April on the Duke campus.
  • Complete your Grand Challenges Senior Thesis prior to the end of your senior year.