Grand Challenge Scholars Program

The challenge for every engineer is to change the world for the better. It is because of this core mission that some of our greatest technological accomplishments were created from the fertile minds of engineers: cars, planes, medical devices, cell phones, toys, just about everything that touches our daily lives.

The University of Utah College of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP), endorsed by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), is an education model to prepare our engineering students to be the world’s new innovators.

While participating in this program, students will build a portfolio throughout their undergraduate experience in any of 14 areas, known as the Grand Challenges established by the NAE for the 21st Century. These are all areas bound by social issues that require innovative technology to solve our most pressing global problems.

National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges:


Advance Health Informatics
Engineer Better Medicines
Reverse-engineer the brain

Joy of Living

Advance Personalized Learning
Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery
Enhance Virtual Reality


Prevent Nuclear Terror
Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
Secure Cyberspace


Develop Carbon Sequestration Methods
Make Solar Energy Economical
Manage the Nitrogen Cycle
Provide Access to Clean Water
Provide Energy from Fusion


Completing this prestigious national program will help improve your engineering skills, rise up the corporate ladder faster or excel in graduate school. In addition, you will also:

  • Receive a certificate of achievement from the College of Engineering
  • Be recognized at the graduation ceremonies
  • Receive a Grand Challenges Scholar letter from the President of the National Academy of Engineering


To complete the 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.

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.


Application Information

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.

If you run into problems submitting this form, please email April Vrtis-Curran.

Apply Below

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).


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