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Grand Challenges Program Description

The Grand Challenges Scholars program is a combined curricular and extra-curricular program with five components that are designed to prepare students to be the generation that solves the grand challenges facing society in this century. The progam at The University of Iowa is based on the National Academy of Engineering's Grand Challenges Scholars Program.

The five required elements of the Grand Challenges Scholars program are:

1.  Research experience. Project or independent research related to one of the 14 Grand Challenges.

2.  Interdisciplinary curriculum we call Engineering+. Preparing engineering students to work at the overlap with public policy, business, law, ethics, human behavior, risk as well as medicine and the sciences. Examples that span these disciplines with a coherent theme are Energy and the Environment, Sustainability, Uncertainty and Optimization, etc.

3.  Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Preparing students to translate invention to innovation; to develop market ventures that scale to global solutions in the public interest.

4.  Global dimension. Developing the students’ global perspective necessary to address challenges that are inherently global as well as to lead innovation in a global economy.

5.  Service learning. Developing and deepening students’ social consciousness and their motivation to bring their technical expertise to bear on societal problems. Programs such as Engineers Without Borders or Engineering World Health may be adapted to satisfy this component and/or component 3.

Our Grand Challenges Scholars program (PDF) is the 7th in the U.S. and the first Big Ten engineering school to be approved by the national committee. The program specifies how Grand Challenges Scholars will meet each of the required elements:  how Grand Challenges Scholars will be selected; how each of the five Grand Challenges curricular components will be met at The University of Iowa; how Grand Challenges Scholars will be assessed and tracked; how the program will promote early student engagement in Grand Challenges-related activities; and how we will foster intramural and extramural networking among Grand Challenges Scholars.

Click here to apply to become a Grand Challenges Scholar.

A special thank you to the donor who made the engineering grand challenges program possible:
James R. Whiteley, BSE 1962 Mechanical Engineering, MS 1964 Industrial Engineering
Chief Executive Officer, Vail Systems, Deerfield, IL