NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

  • Taylor Forbis
    North Carolina State University, 2018, B.S. Civil Engineering

    “The GCSP allowed me to problem-solve in ways that my general coursework did not allow time for and I was able to use my knowledge across disciplines on restoring and improving urban infrastructure. I took this knowledge to my co-ops, ...

  • Audrey Beattie
    University of Portland, 2019, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

    “GCSP offered the opportunity to understand a field I'm interested in--solar energy--in a deeper and more multifaceted way. While I learned the relevant technical information in my standard engineering classes, GCSP prompted me to explore ...

  • Connor Cotton
    Duke University, 2016, B.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering

    “The Grand Challenge Scholars Program was an incredibly important part of my college experience. Through the interdisciplinary curriculum component of the program, I took classes that allowed me to critically examine not only the technical, ...

  • Katherine Warfel
    Bucknell University, 2017, B.S. Chemical Engineering

    “My undergraduate research focused on the Grand Challenge to Engineer better medicines by investigating improvements in small molecule pharmaceutical processing. The GCSP gave me a broader view of this challenge and helped me to realize ...

  • Aaron Gordon
    Clemson University, 2017, B.S. Civil Engineering

    “The GCSP exposed me to many of the crises facing our world and the major role that engineers can play in solving them. During my time in the GCSP, I helped communities in the Central Plateau of Haiti improve access to clean water through ...

For current information on the GCSP, please contact or GCSP Proposal Review Committee Chair Katie Evans (KEVANS@LATECH.EDU).


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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