Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Notre Dame’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program is for students who are inspired to understand and contribute to solutions for some of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

The program grows out of the aspirational vision of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE): “Continuation of life on the planet, making our world more sustainable, secure, healthy and joyful.”

Looking up at the Golden Dome

Students in Notre Dame’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program design and pursue a plan of transformational learning and research to address one of the world’s greatest challenges:

  • Advancing Personalized Medicine
  • Making Solar Energy Economical
  • Enhancing Virtual Reality
  • Reverse-Engineering the Brain
  • Engineering Better Medicines
  • Restoring and Improving Urban Infrastructure
  • Securing Cyberspace
  • Providing Access to Clean Water
  • Providing Energy from Fusion
  • Preventing Nuclear Terror
  • Managing the Nitrogen Cycle
  • Developing Carbon Sequestration Methods
  • Engineering the Tools of Scientific Discovery

While focusing on one of these challenges, and with the support of a faculty mentor, you’ll develop your own path to achieve the five competencies required for the program: 1) Research Experience; 2) Interdisciplinary Coursework; 3) Business/Entrepreneurship; 4) Multicultural/Global Experience; 5) Social Consciousness – Community Engagement.

Become a Grand Challenges Scholar

If you are a first-year student or sophomore who is highly motivated to use engineering to make the world a better place for all, we encourage you to learn more and apply.

Your application should include:

  • Personal essay describing your motivation for participating in the Grand Challenges Scholars program and the specific Grand Challenge you plan to address.
  • Identification of a faculty mentor who will oversee your research/project.
  • A Grand Challenges Curricular Plan that outlines plans for each of the five competencies required for completing the program.
Grace Schippers

“Through the GCSP, I was able to apply skills I’ve learned as a mechanical engineer to become a force for good, working to improve access to safe water for the Leogane community in Haiti. The personal connections, innovative mindset, critical thinking skills, and broad perspective fostered by the program will stay with me for the rest of my life.”


Grace Schippers ‘20

Christian Dennis

“Through the GCSP, I was able to focus my undergraduate experience using the lens of sustainable urban development. This gave me the guidance to do more for others during my time at Notre Dame than I thought was possible. It has also given me the tools and inspiration to continue working for the betterment of the world’s grand challenges after graduation.”


Christian Dennis ‘20

Learn more