The Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) was created by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to prepare students to help solve some of the largest challenges facing society. A select number of universities around the country have been approved as GCSP Schools, and Catholic University is very proud to be one of them!

Grand Challenges Logo

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) released a report describing 14 major challenges in engineering in the 21st century, based on input from prominent scientists and engineers from around the world. The NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering are:


  • Make solar energy economical
  • Provide energy from fusion
  • Develop carbon sequestration methods
  • Manage the nitrogen cycle
  • Provide access to clean water
  • Restore and improve urban infrastructure
  • Advance health informatics

  • Engineer better medicines
  • Reverse-engineer the brain
  • Prevent nuclear terror
  • Secure cyberspace
  • Enhance virtual reality
  • Advance personalized learning
  • Engineer the tools of scientific discovery

Each GCSP school sets its own eligibility criteria and participation requirements for students, but all students who are accepted into the program undertake a program of study involving five elements:

  • a "Grand Challenge" themed research or design project,
  • an interdisciplinary curriculum,
  • entrepreneurship,
  • a global dimension, and
  • service learning.

Students who complete the program earn the distinction of graduating as Grand Challenge Scholars and a certificate signed by the President of the National Academy of Engineering. Past Grand Challenge Scholars are listed on the GCSP website, and rave about the benefits of the experience for their career preparation and career prospects.

Sophomores with cumulative GPA above 3.5 are eligible to apply for Catholic University's Grand Challenges Scholars program. Interested students work with a faculty mentor to plan curricular and co-curricular activities to address the five program elements. Upon graduation, Catholic University's Grand Challenge Scholars will receive a notation on their transcript and receive a plaque from the School of Engineering at Commencement.

Applications must be submitted prior to Spring Break of sophomore year. For questions about the program, please contact the program director, Dr. Behrmann.