NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

  • Archit Verma
    Duke University, 2016, B.S. Biomedical Engineering

    “As a junior at Duke, I built my GCS experience around my research in protein engineering to improve drug delivery and a minor in economics to focus on how medical research interacts with health care policy and delivery. Summer experiences ...

  • Yitaek Hwang
    Duke University, 2016, B.S. Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering

    “My GCSP project was “Lowering the Cost of Corrective Eyewear from Eye Exam to Buying Glasses.” I led a small startup that designed and built self-adjustable eyeglasses to address the 702 million people living with uncorrected ...

  • Zoe Schwartz
    Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 2019, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

    “GCSP gave me a platform to reflect on my work throughout my time at WPI. I was able see recurring themes within my projects and experiences. STEM outreach, especially geared towards girls in engineering, had been at the forefront of my ...

  • Parmenion Patias
    Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 2018, B.S. Robotics engineering w/Minor in Entrepreneurship

    “For my GCSP, I led my school’s NASA RMC 2018 team. The project focused on designing and building a robot able to transverse a simulated Martian terrain, excavate and collect regolith and return and deposit the regolith to the ...

  • John Aguillard
    Louisiana Tech University, 2019, B.S. Electrical Engineering

    John Aguillard is also pursuing a M.S. in Space Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

    "Even early in my undergraduate career, the GCSP gave me the encouragement, network, and opportunities needed to make an impact. From my first ...

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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