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New NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program launches for engineering students who want to tackle humankind's biggest problems

Story by
Trisha Radulovich
photo of girl and laptop holding a world map

Undergraduates at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering will have the chance to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems as scholars in the new National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Program, launching on campus in Fall 2020.

Kassie Ernst, Ph.D., engineering teaching faculty at the college, will be heading up the program as part of a nation-wide initiative that identifies 14 “Grand Challenges” engineers can solve at a global scale. With the program, FAMU-FSU Engineering will join a robust national network of engineering institutions that are embarking on solving the grand challenges while producing engineers focused on global solutions that benefit mankind.

“The Grand Challenges Program of the National Academy is a wonderful effort to motivate young engineers by enriching the curriculum to expose them to the core exciting challenges facing engineering, and the human race,” said Murray Gibson, dean of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. “We are delighted to join the leading universities who are affiliated with this important program.”

Ernst explained that building in a deep sense of community service is key to the purpose of the national program.

“Now, more than ever, it is clear that we have challenges to solve at the global scale,” Ernst said. “We want to educate, amplify, and support our undergraduates who will play important roles in solving the grand challenges of the 21st century. We want to create engineers who are ready to tackle the challenges of today.” 

The NAE-GCSP program gives students opportunities to network nationally and internationally with scholars, scientists, engineers and researchers towards a shared goal. They may choose themes in health, sustainability, security, and the joy of living and participate in in-depth challenges like providing access to clean drinking water or making solar energy more affordable. 

To graduate in the program, students will complete five competencies, which range from viable businesses and entrepreneurship to multiculturalism and social consciousness. There are multiple ways to achieve completion in the program from taking approved courses and internships to volunteer and service opportunities. Each of the competencies helps prepare a well-rounded undergraduate for an exciting future career working to solve large-scale challenges. 

Students must apply and be accepted as scholars to participate. All levels of undergraduates are encouraged to apply if they feel they can meet the criteria of the NAE-GCSP by the time of graduation. Two virtual informational events this fall are planned to kick-off the new program. 

Read here for more information about the program here

View the grand challenges here