GRAND CHALLENGES SCHOLARS

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) is designed to provide UD Engineering undergraduate students with the opportunity to be immersed and engaged in the most pressing societal concerns of our time. GCSP provides a developmental framework for students to focus on academics and extracurricular activities organized around the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges, which broadly include Health, Security, Sustainability and Joy of Living.

As a UD GCSP student you will engage in coursework and experiential opportunities that integrate five core educational components:

  • Hands-on project or research experience
  • Interdisciplinary curriculum
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Global dimension
  • Service learning

Scholars will receive formal designation as an NAE Grand Challenges Scholar at graduation.

Applying to Grand Challenges Scholars program

Who is eligible to apply?

GCSP is open to any admitted or currently enrolled student whose major is in the college of engineering. Admitted students can apply to the program in the summer prior to their freshmen year.  Currently enrolled students in the college may apply to the program through the office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education.

How do I apply to GCSP?

Admitted students can access the essay prompts to apply through their My Blue Hen Home student portal. Students may apply to multiple scholars and fellows programs, but will only be admitted to one program. Currently enrolled students who wish to apply should contact the office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education.

Core Advisors

Biomedical Engineering

Sarah Rooney
sirooney@udel.edu

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Yushan Yan
yanys@udel.edu

Civil & Environmental Engineering

Shangjia Dong
sjdong@udel.edu

Computer & Information Sciences

Chris Rasmussen
ras@udel.edu

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Rick Martin
rdmartin@udel.edu

Materials Science & Engineering

Ismat Shah
ismat@udel.edu

Mechanical Engineering

Lucas Lu
xlu@udel.edu

Challenges

ADVANCE PERSONALIZED LEARNING

A growing appreciation of individual preferences and aptitudes has led toward more “personalized learning,” in which instruction is tailored to a student’s individual needs. Given the diversity of individual preferences, and the complexity of each human brain, developing teaching methods that optimize learning will require engineering solutions of the future.

MAKE SOLAR ENERGY ECONOMICAL

Currently, solar energy provides less than 1% of the world’s total energy, but it has the potential to provide much, much more.

ENHANCE VIRTUAL REALITY

Within many specialized fields, from psychiatry to education, virtual reality is becoming a powerful new tool for training practitioners and treating patients, in addition to its growing use in various forms of entertainment.

REVERSE-ENGINEER THE BRAIN

A lot of research has been focused on creating thinking machines — computers capable of emulating human intelligence — however, reverse-engineering the brain could have multiple impacts that go far beyond artificial intelligence and will promise great advances in health care, manufacturing, and communication.

ENGINEER BETTER MEDICINES

Engineering can enable the development of new systems to use genetic information, sense small changes in the body, assess new drugs, and deliver vaccines to provide health care directly tailored to each person.

ADVANCE HEALTH INFORMATICS

As computers have become available for all aspects of human endeavors, there is now a consensus that a systematic approach to health informatics — the acquisition, management, and use of information in health — can greatly enhance the quality and efficiency of medical care and the response to widespread public health emergencies.

RESTORE AND IMPROVE URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE

Infrastructure is the combination of fundamental systems that support a community, region, or country. Society faces the formidable challenge of modernizing the fundamental structures that will support our civilization in centuries ahead.

SECURE CYBERSPACE

Computer systems are involved in the management of almost all areas of our lives; from electronic communications, and data systems, to controlling traffic lights to routing airplanes. It is clear that engineering needs to develop innovations for addressing a long list of cybersecurity priorities

PROVIDE ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER

The world’s water supplies are facing new threats; affordable, advanced technologies could make a difference for millions of people around the world.

PROVIDE ENERGY FROM FUSION

Human-engineered fusion has been demonstrated on a small scale. The challenge is to scale up the process to commercial proportions, in an efficient, economical, and environmentally benign way.

PREVENT NUCLEAR TERROR

The need for technologies to prevent and respond to a nuclear attack is growing.

MANAGE THE NITROGEN CYCLE

Engineers can help restore balance to the nitrogen cycle with better fertilization technologies and by capturing and recycling waste.

DEVELOP CARBON SEQUESTRATION METHODS

Engineers are working on ways to capture and store excess carbon dioxide to prevent global warming.

ENGINEER THE TOOLS OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY

In the century ahead, engineers will continue to be partners with scientists in the great quest for understanding many unanswered questions of nature.

Program Expectations

1. Grand Challenge Project

The purpose of the Grand Challenge Project (GCP) is for the scholar to engage in novel, in-depth work related to the Grand Challenges. To satisfy this requirement, a student must consistently engage with the same project focused on a Grand Challenge thematic area for a substantive time period during their upperclassmen years. The GCP is intended as a capstone experience within the GCSP program.

To fulfill this requirement, students must:

  • Complete 4 credit hours capstone (senior) engineering design experience at 400-level or above that aligns with one or more Grand Challenge areas.

OR

  • Complete 6 credit hours of optional independent study (300 or 400 level) with UD faculty on the same research project that aligns with a NAE Grand Challenge area.

OR

  • Two winter/summer optional internships with UD faculty on the same research project that aligns with a NAE Grand Challenge area. One internship and 3 credit hours of independent study may also satisfy this requirement.

Example:

In 2016, a group of senior year students in mechanical, biomedical, and environmental engineering in the Engineering Senior Design (MEEG 401/BMEG 450) were tasked by the USDA with designing and fabricating a portable decontamination system for visiting veterinarians. This project aligned with three Grand Challenge areas: Sustainability, Healthcare and Security. The team devoted 1,200 person-hours over the course of a 6-credit hour, one-semester course towards the project and created a fully functional prototype that is now being advanced internally within the USDA.

2. Interdisciplinary Curriculum

Given that the Grand Challenges themselves are inherently interdisciplinary, GCSP students must complete a minimum amount of coursework that involves interdisciplinary technical expertise and collaboration.

To fulfill this requirement, students must:

  • Complete 2 credit hours of Introduction to Engineering (EGGG 101), which inherently requires substantive interdisciplinary collaboration related to Grand Challenges.

OR

  • Complete 2 credit hours of equivalent introductory First-Year Experience course that aligns with Grand Challenges and requires group work.

AND

  • Complete 3 credit hours of 300 or 400 level coursework that involves interdisciplinary, project-based teamwork on Grand Challenges issues. Students may choose courses from the pre-approved list developed by the GCSP Committee.

Example:

A mechanical engineering student completed EGGG 101: Introduction to Engineering in fall 2016, which involved multiple group projects with engineering students from other disciplines. With their team, the student prototyped a kinetic energy harvesting system (Sustainability) and a password protection app (Security); and lecture content in the course included introductory concepts from each major engineering discipline as well as business and entrepreneurship. In the student’s sophomore year, the student completed LEAD 300: Leadership, Creativity, and Innovation, an interdisciplinary course housed in the Political Science Department that provides students with the theoretical bases of leadership, creativity, and innovation that inform the effective practice of leadership. The student again worked in an interdisciplinary team, this time with non-engineering students, to develop a social program that reduced the stigma associated with physical deformations of the face and hands amongst children.

3. Entrepreneurship

GCSP students must build awareness and experience in entrepreneurship, defined as the commercialization of a product, process, service, through formal coursework and experiential learning. GCSP students may extend other GCSP core requirements, such as the Grand Challenge Project, into their entrepreneurial experience.

To fulfill this requirement, students must:

  • Complete 3 credit hours of 300 or 400 level coursework in the UD Entrepreneurship program (ENTR course designation).

AND

  • Summer/winter internship involving active entrepreneurship and/or commercialization efforts of new technology in one of the Grand Challenge thematic areas. Capstone (Senior) engineering design may count towards this requirement so long as the faculty instructor certifies that the project involves an entrepreneurship and/or commercialization effort.

Example:

Two engineering students complete a winter internship (MEEG 366) to advance their novel construction-themed toy design, created in an earlier design class, to a minimum viable prototype, appropriate to “pitch” in a start-up competition. At the conclusion of the internship, the students are awarded a small grant for customer discovery and enroll in ENTR 350: Introduction to Entrepreneurship, to learn the Lean Start-up Method for creating a viable commercialization plan for their product.

 

  • Participate in UD Service Learning Scholars Program, including winter/summer internship and 3 credit independent study with faculty supervision. The UD Service Learning Program was recognized nationally with the Community Engagement Classification from the distinguished Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

OR

  • Complete at least two years of active involvement in student organizations or established NGOs that engage with underserved communities in proximity to UD. Student must provide evidence of active involvement (at a level equivalent to an organizational officer, project manager, etc.) as a written statement endorsed by organizational leadership.

Example:

A mechanical engineering student is a member of The MESS (Mechanical Engineering Student Squad), an organization dedicated to recruiting, retaining, and advancing mechanical engineering students within the UD community. Beginning their sophomore year, they conducted demonstrations and workshops at local middle and high schools to promote the mechanical engineering profession, and they served as a near-peer mentor for first-semester students in the major. The student remained active in MESS throughout their time in the program, dedicating approximately 20 hours per semester in service to the K12 and UD community.

4. Global Dimension

GCSP students must engage with organizations and/or research and service projects outside of the U.S.

To fulfill this requirement, students must:

  • Complete at least two years of active involvement in student organizations or established NGOs that engage with communities outside of the U.S., e.g., Engineers Without Borders or Red Cross. Student must provide evidence of active involvement (at a level equivalent to an organizational officer, project manager, etc.) as a written statement endorsed by organizational leadership.

OR

  • Summer/winter internship on faculty-supervised research that engages with communities outside of the U.S. Student must submit a statement describing engagement, which is to be endorsed by the faculty supervisor for the research.

Example:

An environmental engineering student is a member of the UD chapter of Engineers Without Borders. In their first year, the student is engaged in the paper design and design justification for a new water filtration system in a rural village in South America. The student remains engaged with the organization throughout their time at UD, eventually becoming the treasurer for the club and supervising a component of the system installation on site in their senior year.

5. Service Learning

GCSP students must also commit to serving their local community, that is, in proximity to UD.

To fulfill this requirement, students must:

  • Participate in UD Service Learning Scholars Program, including winter/summer internship and 3 credit independent study with faculty supervision. The UD Service Learning Program was recognized nationally with the Community Engagement Classification from the distinguished Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

OR

  • Complete at least two years of active involvement in student organizations or established NGOs that engage with underserved communities in proximity to UD. Student must provide evidence of active involvement (at a level equivalent to an organizational officer, project manager, etc.) as a written statement endorsed by organizational leadership.

Example:

A mechanical engineering student is a member of The MESS (Mechanical Engineering Student Squad), an organization dedicated to recruiting, retaining, and advancing mechanical engineering students within the UD community. Beginning their sophomore year, they conducted demonstrations and workshops at local middle and high schools to promote the mechanical engineering profession, and they served as a near-peer mentor for first-semester students in the major. The student remained active in MESS throughout their time in the program, dedicating approximately 20 hours per semester in service to the K12 and UD community.

Contact

For more information contact the office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at coe-gcsp@udel.edu.