NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

  • 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 ...

  • Alexandra Fredrickson
    University of Rochester, 2018, B.S. Molecular Genetics

    Alexandra Fredrickson went on to get a Master’s of Science in Technical Entrepreneurship and Management specializing in Biomanufacturing and Therapeutic Development from the University of Rochester and graduated in May 2019.



  • 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 ...

  • Evan Williams
    SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 2019, B.S. Environmental Resources Engineering

    “The Grand Challenge Scholars Program has helped me to synthesize my many unique college experiences and endeavors into a cohesive vision for the future of engineering. It offered me the opportunity to build on my sustainability-focused ...

  • Daniel Kawalsky
    University of Southern California, 2019, B.S. Computer Science

    "Prompted by GCSP to Enhance Virtual Reality, I created an application to test various means of locomoting in VR–that is, I made 6 "maps" in which a VR game player uses one of 3 different ways of getting ...

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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