Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP)

Grand Challenge Scholars Program

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) identified 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century:

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

The profession of engineering has been, true to its latin root ingeniare, about invention. For the past one hundred years, about as long as most college of engineering programs have existed, the list of the most important engineering achievements has been dominated by devices: planes and spacecraft, cars and agricultural machines, lasers and PET scanners, to name a few from the NAE report of the last century. Almost a decade into the new century, another NAE committee has addressed the new engineering grand challenges and has come to a much deeper unfolding of invention: Their list includes making solar energy economical, preventing nuclear terror, advancing health informatics, clean water and reverse engineering the human brain. None of them are just devices. Nearly all address complex social issues that require innovative technology and a systems approach to solve but cannot be solved in a vacuum. They will also 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 challenges to “change the world,” and many of them are inherently global.

The University of Utah College of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) is a new education model to prepare our engineering students to be world changers. While participating in this program, students will build a portfolio throughout their undergraduate experience encompassing five components:

  • Research experience: Project or independent research related to a Grand Challenge.
  • Interdisciplinary curriculum: Preparing engineering students to work at the overlap with public policy, business, law, ethics, human behavior, risk as well as medicine and the sciences. Examples that span these disciplines with a coherent theme are Energy and the Environment, Sustainability, Uncertainty and Optimization, etc.
  • Entrepreneurship: Preparing students to translate invention to innovation; to develop market ventures that scale to global solutions in the public interest.
  • Global dimension: Developing the students’ global perspective necessary to address challenges that are inherently global as well as to lead innovation in a global economy.
  • Service learning: Developing and deepening students’ social consciousness and their motivation to bring their technical expertise to bear on societal problems.

The University of Utah College of Engineering’s GCSP is endorsed by the NAE, and students completing their portfolio and graduating from the program will be designated ‘Grand Challenge Scholars’ by the NAE.

Please explore this website to learn more about the program. If you are a student, I hope you will consider applying to the program through the “Application Information” tab. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact myself or the faculty liaison for your department. The current faculty liaisons are:

  • Bioengineering: TBD
  • Chemical Engineering: TBD
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: TBD
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering: TBD
  • Materials Science and Engineering: TBD
  • Mechanical Engineering: TBD
  • School of Computing: TBD

Thank you for your interest!

Meredith Metzger
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department
Director, Grand Challenge Scholars Program
Office: 409 CME
Email:  metzger@eng.utah.edu

 

Program Deadlines

Note that the GCSP Program Plans will be judged according to the criteria listed in the following PDF file: Program Plan Assessment. Then, the GCSP Portfolios will be judged according to the criteria listed in the following PDF file: Portfolio Assessment


For students entering the GCSP as incoming freshman (starting in the Fall semester):
During or prior to the 1st year (as a freshman or as high school seniors):
  • Complete the GCSP application by Dec. 1, April 1, or July 1 (see the “Application Information” tab of this webpage)
  • Notice of acceptance will be provided to the student via email by Feb. 1 (for the Dec. 1 deadline), April 15 (for the April 1 deadline), or Sept. 1 (for the July deadline)
During the 2nd year (as a sophomore):
  • Complete the Program Plan by Dec. 1
  • Notice of continued acceptance will be provided to the student via email by March 1
During the graduation year (as a senior):
  • Submit the completed GCSP Portfolio at least two months prior to the expected graduation date
  • Notice of GCSP Portfolio acceptance and Grand Challenge Scholar designation will be provided to the student at least one week prior to graduation

For students entering the GCSP as transfer students:
During the 1st year as a University of Utah student:
  • Complete the GCSP application by Dec. 1 or July 1 (see the “Application Information” tab of this webpage)
  • Notice of acceptance will be provided to the student via email by Feb. 1 (for the Dec. 1 deadline) or Sept. 1 (for the July deadline)
Within 1 year of applying to the GCSP:
  • Complete the Program Plan by Dec. 1 or July 1
  • Notice of continued acceptance will be provided to the student via email by March 1 (for the Dec. 1 deadline) or Oct. 1 (for the July 1 deadline)
During the graduation year (as a senior):
  • Submit the completed GCSP Portfolio at least two months prior to the expected graduation date
  • Notice of GCSP Portfolio acceptance and Grand Challenge Scholar designation will be provided to the student at least one week prior to graduation

For students of sophomore standing or higher:
By the next possible application date:
  • Complete the GCSP application by Dec. 1 or July 1 (see the “Application Information” tab of this webpage)
  • Notice of acceptance will be provided to the student via email by Feb. 1 (for the Dec. 1 deadline) or Sept. 1 (for the July deadline)
Within 1 year of applying to the GCSP:
  • Complete the Program Plan by Dec. 1 or July 1
  • Notice of continued acceptance will be provided to the student via email by March 1 (for the Dec. 1 deadline) or Oct. 1 (for the July 1 deadline)
During the graduation year (as a senior):
  • Submit the completed GCSP Portfolio at least two months prior to the expected graduation date
  • Notice of GCSP Portfolio acceptance and Grand Challenge Scholar designation will be provided to the student at least one week prior to graduation

Application Information

Applications to join the University of Utah’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program are due annually on Dec. 1 (everyone), April 1 (for incoming freshman only), and July 1 (everyone). To apply to the GCSP, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page and provide the requested documents. Students should apply as early as possible during their undergraduate studies (please see the “Program Deadlines” tab on this webpage). Currently, there is no minimum GPA required to apply to the program, however students are encouraged to have at least a 3.5 GPA in order to make themselves competitive.

Once accepted into the program, students must:

  • Remain a student in good standing.
  • Submit to the GCSP director a proposed GCSP Plan, which encompasses how the student will fulfill the required five curricular components (this is due within one year of beginning the program).
  • Complete the proposed GCSP Portfolio including the five GCSP components at least two months prior to graduation.

If you run into problems submitting this form, please email Prof. Metzger.

What is your declared major? Or if you have not yet declared, what engineering discipline interests you most?
Will only be used for GCSP communications.
Please describe how each activity / course fulfills a curricular component(s).

To complete your application, please email a copy of your transcript (unofficial is OK) and a 2-page resume to the GCSP Program Director (see the “Contact” tab of this website). Ask one recommender to provide a letter of recommendation on your behalf to the GCSP Program Director (an emailed PDF recommendation letter is fine). Family and friends may not provide letters of recommendation. It is recommended that you ask someone to write a letter who can speak to one or more of the following: your commitment (to engineering), creativity, motivation, achievements, ability to work in groups, etc.

If you want to see a confirmation of a successful submission of this form, click on the “Application Information” tab after clicking the submit button.

Portfolio Details

To complete the GCSP, each student will build a portfolio having five components. Note that a GCSP Portfolio Program Plan must be submitted by each student and approved by the GCSP committee according to the schedules listed under the “Program Deadlines” tab of this webpage. The student must then complete and submit their GCSP portfolio at least two months prior to the student’s anticipated graduation date.

It is recommended that students meet with a faculty liaison or GCSP Director before submitting a Portfolio Plan and Portfolio. The current faculty liaisons are listed under the “About” tab of this GCSP website. It may be helpful in planning out your Portfolio Program Plan to first decide on a research topic and lab to work in. This will help you plan your other relevant activities and courses to be included in your Portfolio.

The GCSP Program Plans will be judged according to the criteria listed in the following PDF file: Program Plan Assessment. Then, the GCSP Portfolios will be judged according to the criteria listed in the following PDF file: Portfolio Assessment

For the research component of the GCSP Portfolio, note that the faculty listed below have research efforts in their labs relating to one or more of the Grand Challenges. These faculty have also expressed an interest in working with Grand Challenge Scholars Program participants. Please consult their faculty webpages for additional details on their research activities.

Suggestions on how to fulfill each of the five portfolio component are provided below. It is expected that each portfolio will be unique, depending on the student’s interests and goals. Students may propose new ways to fulfill the five portfolio components other than through those suggestions listed below.

An exact time duration / commitment required to fulfill each component below is also not specified, but students must satisfy “depth” for at least two of the GCSP components and “breadth” for the remaining components.

  • Research experience (For Depth: Complete at least two full semesters of active research on a project relating to a GC along with participation as a presenter at a State, national, or international conference; For Breadth: Complete two semesters of active research on a project relating to a GC along with participation as a presenter at a University conference — at the department, school, or university level):
    • Apply for funding for up to two semesters from the U’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
    • Conduct a senior design project relating to one of the Grand Challenges.
    • Work on a Grand Challenge-related research project not associated with UROP or senior design.
    • Apply to participate in the U’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, the Utah State-Wide Conference on Undergraduate Research, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, and/or in a poster session to the Utah State legislators.
    • Participate in a professional, technical national or international conference.
  • Interdisciplinary curriculum (For Depth: Complete two courses — if IE courses are chosen, these must be beyond the basic requirements for graduation; For Breadth: Complete one course — if IE courses are chosen, these must be beyond the basic requirements for graduation
    • Enroll in an Honors College Think Tanks course.
    • Enroll in an intellectual exploration (IE) course in the fine arts, humanities, or social sciences that are in some way related to the Grand Challenges (beyond the two IE courses already required for graduation).
    • Enroll in honors courses offered in various departments outside of the students’ major, including Math, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, etc.
    • Enroll in other courses related on some level to the Grand Challenges offered at the University
  • Entrepreneurship (For Depth: Participate in the U’s Innovation Scholar Program or compete in two competitions or equivalent; For Breadth: Compete in one competition, complete the course, Engin 5020, or participate as a speaker in the U’s Student Entrepreneur Conference or equivalent
    • Participate in the U’s Innovation Scholar Program
    • Compete in the U’s Bench to Bedside (B2B) Medical Device Competition, which is designed to create an environment where young professionals in medicine, bioengineering, and business can learn to work together in a team dynamic and being to lean the skills required to design, develop, and commercialize new medical technology.
    • Compete in the Utah Entrepreneur Series techTITANS competition which encompasses the idea stage of creating a business.
    • Compete in the Utah Entrepreneur Series Opportunity Quest competition that addresses the executive summary state in business development.
    • Compete in the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge that awards $40K to a winning business plan for business start-up.
    • Complete the course, Engin 5020, “Emerging Technologies and Business Management,” through the School of Engineering.
    • Create a venture (for-profit or non-profit) which may be a service organization or a club.
    • Work at a start-up or early stage venture that addresses a Grand Challenge topic (as long as the student is actively engaged in the entrepreneurial aspect of the venture).
    • Participate as a speaker/presenter in the U’s Student Entrepreneur Conference
    • Compete or participate in other startup competitions and/or entrepreneurship events.
  • Global dimension (For Depth: At least one semester abroad or equivalent; For Breadth: 3 summers or semesters of active participation or 3 courses or equivalent if completed in the U.S.):
    • Note: The U’s Office for Global Engagement may serve as a resource to you as you fulfill this component.
    • Participate or assume a leadership position with Engineers Without Borders and work on a project having a global dimension
    • Participate in a study abroad program
    • Learn a foreign language and live abroad
    • Enroll in an intellectual exploration course in the fine arts, humanities, or social sciences having a global dimension.
    • Enroll in a LEAP section having a global dimension.
    • Enroll in an Honors College Think Tank having a global dimension.
    • Enroll in an Honors College Scholars Group having a global dimension
    • Enroll in another course having a global dimension
    • Complete an international internship, perhaps through the Honors-Hinckley Track
    • Work at an internationally-minded program that is located domestically
    • Join the newly-created International Engineering Club at the U or work on an international project with Engineers without Borders.
  • Service learning (For Depth: 3 semesters of active participation or equivalent; For Breadth: 2 semesters of active participation or equivalent)
    • Participate or assume a leadership position with Engineers Without Borders
    • Participate and/or plan service activities through the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) student chapter or the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) student chapter
    • Participate or assume a leadership position with the student or local chapter of the IEEE or SWE
    • Serve as a science fair judge at a local grade school
    • Tutor other students or K-12 students
    • Volunteer at the University Hospital or within another organization, especially if it relates to the chosen Grand Challenge
    • Participate or assume a leadership role in another service-oriented activity.

GCSP Participants and Scholars

The GCSP was established at the U in Fall 2013. To join the first group of students in this program, please apply through the “Application Information” tab on this webpage.

  • Current GCSP Participants:
    • Katie Colburn (admitted Spring 2014)
    • Alyssa Hawkins (admitted Spring 2014)
    • Dymonte Misa (admitted Spring 2014)
    • Haoran Yu (admitted Spring 2014)
  • Graduated GCSP Scholars: N/A

If you find errors in this list, please email Prof. Metzger.

Information for Faculty

Please encourage undergraduate students to participate in the GCSP. Also, especially if your research is in any way related to one of the 14 grand challenges, please provide students opportunities to conduct research in your lab to help them fulfill the research component of the GCSP.

We need faculty involvement for this program to be successful! If you are interested in helping, or in serving as a GCSP departmental representative, please contact Prof. Metzger

As a GCSP departmental representative, you can help choose the next “world changers” among our students. Serving as a GCSP departmental representative involves:

  • Helping advertise the program to students in your department.
  • Reviewing student applications twice a year.
  • Helping guide students as they create their program plans.
  • Approving student portfolio plans twice a year
  • Approving student final portfolios about a month prior to graduation
Note that we anticipate only ~20-30 students across all engineering disciplines participating in this program, so on average only about 4-5 students per department.

Contact

Prof. Meredith Metzger, 409 CME
Phone: 801-585-6929
Email: metzger@eng.utah.edu

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