NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Alumni
  • Xiang Li
    City University of Hong Kong, 2019, B.S.E. Civil and Structural Engineering

    “The Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) introduced me to a broader engineering world related to interdisciplinary society containing finance, art, and politics consideration. For a global view of civil development, under GCSP, after the ...

  • Zachary Gima
    University of Southern California, 2014, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

    “I entered USC knowing that I wanted to work in the field of renewable energy technologies. The GCSP provided the ideal framework for me to contextualize my educational and career aspirations. The emphasis on being bold and solving problems ...

  • Matthew Ritter
    Olin College of Engineering, 2010, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

    “I had a strong interest in cleantech and entrepreneurship throughout my undergraduate career. In an extraordinary stroke of fortune Olin began graduating Grand Challenge Scholars in my senior year, so I and another entrepreneurial Oliner got ...

  • Alec Beeve
    Saint Louis University, 2017, B.S. Biomedical Engineering

    “The five competencies of the GCSP developed me into a versatile and conscientious scientist-engineer, ready to take on an independent research project as a Ph.D. candidate. Almost daily, I see how the translational, multidisciplinary and ...

  • 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 Sherri Hunter (SHUNTER@NAE.EDU) or GCSP Proposal Review Committee Chair Katie Evans (KEVANS@LATECH.EDU).

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