Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Seeking students who are inspired to contribute solutions to the world’s greatest challenges

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program seeks students who are inspired to understand and contribute to solutions for some of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

Working with a faculty mentor, you’ll design and pursue a plan of transformational learning and research that addresses one of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges.

If you are a first-year 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.

Meet the 2021 graduating class of Grand Challenges Scholars.

The 5 Competencies

  1. Research Project or Experience
    Plan project or experience that addresses one of the NAE Grand Challenges.
  2. Interdisciplinary Coursework
    Take the University Core Curriculum (Fine Arts, Social Science, Theology, Philosophy, Science, Mathematics, History, Moreau First Year Course) as well as 2 courses that address the Grand Challenge from a different perspective (public policy, business, law, ethics, human behavior, risk, or medicine).
  3. Business/Entrepreneurship Experience
    Engage with one of the following: Notre Dame Idea Center; Notre Dame ESTEEM; Notre Dame California Initiative; or related summer internship.
    Take two of the following classes:
    Entrepreneurial Insights (BAUG 20500)
    Boardroom Insights (BAUG 30209)
    Integrated Engineering and Business Fundamentals I (EG 40421)
    Integrated Engineering and Business Fundamentals II (EG 40422)
    Case Studies in Computing-based Entrepreneurship (CSE 40923)
  4. Multicultural/Global Experience
    Participate in one of the following:
    Engineering Summer International Study
    Notre Dame International Study Abroad
    Notre Dame International Undergraduate Research project
    ND Center for Social Concerns Overseas Learning Opportunity
    An overseas Internship Experience
    NDSEED International Experience
    ND Engineers without Borders
    The Bowman Creek Project
  5. Social Consciousness/Community Engagement
    Use your engineering skills for the betterment of the community in a way that that enhances understanding of your Grand Challenge. These opportunities may be selected through, or create a new one.

How to Apply

Apply as a first-year student or as a sophomore. Your application should include the following:

  • Personal essay (no more than two pages) describing
    1. Your motivation for participating in the Grand Challenges Scholars program
    2. 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.

Selections are made by a steering committee consisting of the Program Director and one faculty member from each department.

Faculty Contacts

  • Questions? Contact faculty to learn more:

    Kerry Meyers, Director, Grand Challenges Scholars Program,
  • Timothy Ovaert, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering,
  • Troy Vogel, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering,
  • Alexandros Taflanidis, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences,
  • Aaron Striegel, Computer Science and Engineering,
  • Doug Hall, Electrical Engineering,