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 14 greatest challenges, as identified by the National Academy of Engineering.

Advancing Personalized Medicine
Making Solar Energy Economical
Enhancing Virtual Reality
Reverse-Engineering the Brain
Engineering Better Medicines
Restoring/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

Grand Challenge Scholars Program student standing at podium with a projector screen behind them presenting their project.
Grand Challenge Scholars Program student standing at podium presenting their project.
Grand Challenge Scholars Program student standing at podium with a projector screen behind them presenting their project.

While focusing on one of these challenges, and with the support of a faculty mentor, students develop their own path in the program that involves 1) Research Experience; 2) Interdisciplinary Coursework; 3) Business/Entrepreneurship; 4) Multicultural/Global Experience; and 5) Social Consciousness – Community Engagement.

Meet the Spring 2024 graduating class of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program.

Elle Akerman

Elle Akerman

Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences
Project: Using Remote Sensing to Analyze Marine Flows

Chloe Behringer

Chloe Behringer

Major: Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Project: Sustainable and Renewable Energy 

Jack McHenry

Jack McHenry

Major: Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Project: Integrity of infrastructure and how it affects public policy

Richard McManus

Richard McManus

Major: Electrical Engineering
Project: Low-energy computing with Adiabatic Microprocessors

Matthew Stracensky

Matthew Stracensky

Major: Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Project: Restoring and Improving Urban Infrastructure

Chiara Thrum

Chiara Thrum

Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences
Project: Sustainability in Water Engineering

Become a Notre Dame 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 apply to the program.

Your application should include:

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

Grand Challenges Scholars Program Information Session

Tuesday, February 27, 5-5:30 p.m.
109/110 Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering

First-Year and Sophomore engineering students join us to learn about what’s involved to participate in the program and how to apply.

2023 Grand Challenges Scholars Program graduates
2023 Grand Challenges Scholars Program graduates

Contact

For more information, please contact one of the following faculty members: