Grand Challenge Scholars Program

The National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program

ec-img-grand-challenges-scholarsThe National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE’s) list of 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st century is a call to action and a means of focusing society’s attention on opportunities and challenges affecting our quality of life.

Nearly all 14 challenges address complex social issues that require innovative technology and a systems approach to solving them, but they cannot be solved in a vacuum. They also will require engineers to shape public policy, transfer technical innovation to the market place and to inform and be informed by social science and the humanities.

These are ambitious tasks that will require a new generation of engineers that will collectively:

  • Create new capabilities
  • Provide pragmatic solutions for basic human needs
  • Develop new entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Reinvent human interactions
  • Transform systems thinking
  • Be the architects of a sustainable society
  • Be mindful of unintended consequences
  • Connect technology with society

The NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program is a combined curricular and extra-curricular program with five components listed below that are designed to prepare students to solve these grand challenges facing society. These are challenges to “change the world.”

  • Capstone Experience in Undergraduate Research or Engineering Design Projects
  • Interdisciplinary Engineering+ Curriculum
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Global Dimension
  • Service Learning

Program Benefits

Scholars will produce their own comprehensive portfolio of research, projects and high-impact experiences that can be leveraged to pursue future academic and professional endeavors.

Scholars will receive a yearly academic achievement award with an annual increase to offset the expenses associated with completing the program’s five programmatic components. Expenses may include, but are not limited to, travel costs to present at research symposiums or study abroad.

Scholars will have opportunities to network with other GC Scholars at NC State as well as with our sister programs, plus faculty members of the National Academy of Engineering.

Graduating seniors will be distinctly recognized as Grand Challenge Scholars on their official university transcript upon completion of the program.

How to Apply


All NC State undergraduates who have successfully joined any major within the College of Engineering (i.e., complete the CODA process) are eligible to apply.  To apply for the Grand Challenge Scholars Program, a student must propose their planned curricular and co-curricular experiences that fulfill the five programmatic components and focus upon any one of the Grand Challenges.

Applications will be evaluated based upon the breadth and depth of proposed experiences, so the strongest proposals will be those demonstrating sustained involvement in activities related to the Grand Challenges prior to applying for the program. Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher will be the most competitive applicants.


Phone: (919) 515-3263 | Email: (Please put Grand Challenges Scholars Program or GCSP in the email subject line.)