Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Engineers have long leveraged technology to improve and adapt the world around us. The Grand Challenge Scholars Program, endorsed by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), sees more than 40 engineering schools around the world working to produce engineering professionals equipped to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

Learn more about the challenges faced.

The National Academy of Engineering, or NAE, is a private, independent and nonprofit institution founded in 1964. Its mission is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession.

The Grand Challenges for Engineering are an aspirational vision of what engineering needs to deliver to all people on the planet in the 21st century. "Continuation of life on the plane, making our world more sustainable, secure, healthy and joyful."

The 14 Grand Challenges Include:

  • Make solar energy economical
  • Manage the nitrogen cycle
  • Advance health informatics
  • Prevent nuclear terror
  • Advance personalized learning
  • Provide energy form fusion
  • Provide access to clean water
  • Engineer better medicines
  • Secure cyberspace
  • Engineer the tools of scientific discovery
  • Develop carbon sequestration methods
  • Restore and improve urban infrastructure
  • Reverse-engineer the brain
  • Enhance virtual reality

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) is a combined curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular program with five competencies that are designed to prepare the next generation of students for addressing the grand challenges facing society in this century. Each institution creates their own specific realization of how the competencies are implemented, which are approved by the GCSP steering committee.

GCSP Competencies

1. Research/creative: Mentored research or project experience related to a Grand Challenge to enhance technical competence
2. Multidisciplinary: Understanding gained through experience of the multidisciplinary character of implementable and viable Grand Challenge solutions
3. Business/entrepreneurship: Understanding gained through experience that viable business models are necessary for successful implementation of Grand Challenge solutions
4. Multicultural: Understanding gained through experience that serious consideration of cultural issues is mandatory for all viable Grand Challenge solutions
5. Social consciousness: Deepen social consciousness and motivation to address societal problems, often gained through service learning, because serving people is the vision served by the Grand Challenges

A Global Movement

The GCSP is very unique in that it is an outcomes-based program that gives wide flexibility to institutions on the best ways of offering appropriate and relevant experiences to students. It has the structure of a movement more than a project, where inspiration is driven by the power of the idea and execution is made within the local ecosystem. In order for this movement to take root and thrive, it has to be a global and engage a truly diverse group of students.

It is hoped the GCSP will be replicated at many outstanding engineering programs around the world to yield several thousand graduates per year uniquely prepared and motivated to address the most challenging problems facing our world. A goal is for the program to pilot innovative educational approaches that will eventually become the mainstream educational paradigm for all engineering students.

General Requirements

  • Maintain good academic standing
  • Present findings at research event once per year
  • Complete one of the following courses during the first year of admission to the program:
    • EGR 1351 First Year Participation in Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS),
    • EGR 2351 Sophomore Participation in Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS),
    • EGR 3351 Junior Participation in Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS)
    • EGR 4351 Senior Participation in Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS)
  • Complete one of the following courses during the last year of the program:
    • EGR 4352 Senior Participation in Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS),
    • EGR 4362 Senior EPICS Design I,
    • EGR 4363 Senior EPICS Design I
    • EGR 4373 Senior EPICS Design II
  • Satisfy the five competencies through designated courses or extracurricular activities

Talent Competency

Engagement in a design project or independent research linked to the GC. Requirements include:

a) GC Commitment Project in the semester following selection:

b) and at least one of the following:

  • UTSA OUR: Office of Undergraduate Research Experience – preapproved research in a faculty mentors lab
  • College of Engineering Research Experience – by competitive application to the student success center with assigned faculty mentor
  • Engineering Honors research program – guided one year mentorship/research Program
  • Pre-approved honors international Scholars research experience

Multidisciplinary Competency

Complete 12 credits or their equivalency with at least 3 credits at the upper division level.

  • Engineering Projects in Community Service (all levels)
  • Any Honors or Interdisciplinary course work
  • Any Social Behavioral Sciences Interdisciplinary Core (080)

*Courses are encouraged to overlap with their program of study and fulfill common core requirements.

Viable Business/Entrepreneurship Competency

Each Scholar will choose among the following:

  • Engineering Economic Analysis
  • Economic Principles and Issues
  • Pre-approved combination of workshops from the CITE innovation lab
  • Participation in the CITE competition
  • Completion of a business minor

Multicultural Competency

Each Scholar will choose among the following:

  • Participation in Engineering without Borders-internship or outreach experience.
  • Participation in Engineering World Health- internship or outreach experience
  • Participation in International Study Abroad- any program
  • Participation in a pre-approved community service experience of 120 hours or more (documented by community project director)

Social Consciousness Competency

Each Scholar will choose among the following:

  • Participation in one or more year-long EPICS projects in the community engagement assigned role
  • Participation in Alternate Spring/Summer Break experiences
  • Participation in a pre-approved community service experience of 120 hours or more (documented by community project director)
  • A GCSP Scholar will engage and document the interaction with their GC mentor throughout their program of study and will submit a per semester plan for review by the Director.
  • A GCSP Scholar will present once per year at either; the College of Engineering Tech Symposium, Center for Innovation Technology and Entrepreneurship competition, UTSA Civic Engagement Summit or Honors College Research Showcase events,
  • Document satisfactory progress in each of the five GCSP metrics as reflected in the curriculum.
  • Work will be featured through KCEID’s website and social platforms
  • Travel to NAE Conferences and Events
  • Potential Scholarships
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