The University of Iowa College of Engineering’s vision is to be recognized internationally for engineering education and research, and for leadership to the profession.  Our profession must rise to meet the challenges facing society this century. In particular, the National Academy of Engineering has identified fourteen “Grand Challenges” which will require innovative engineering solutions, developed in conjunction with professionals from a broad range of disciplines.

Engineering has accomplished a great deal in the last century. A few of these accomplishments include the widespread distribution of electricity and clean water for public health, the advent of automobiles and airplanes for transportation, and the development of radio and television for communication. The accomplishments also include widespread adoption of antibiotics and medical imaging for human health, and the advent of computers and the Internet to transform the ways people interact. Click here for more on the Great Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century.

Through the engineering accomplishments of the past, the world has become smaller, more inclusive, and more connected. With input from people around the word, an international group of technological leaders through The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) identified a new set of challenges, the 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century.  The challenges facing engineering today are not those of isolated locales, but of the planet as a whole and all the planet’s people. Meeting all those challenges must make the world not only a more technologically advanced and connected place, but also a more sustainable, safe, healthy, and joyous — in other words, better — place.

The University of Iowa College of Engineering was the one of the first ten institutions in the country to have an approved Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program and the first in the Big Ten.

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The 14 Grand Challenges

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The Engineering Grand Challenge 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 program at The University of Iowa is based on the National Academy of Engineering's Grand Challenge Scholars Program.

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

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

2.  Interdisciplinary Curriculum. 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. 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 Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program 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 Challenge Scholars will meet each of the required elements; how Grand Challenge Scholars will be selected; how each of the five Grand Challenge curricular components will be met at The University of Iowa; how Grand Challenge Scholars will be assessed and tracked; how the program will promote early student engagement in Grand Challenge-related activities; and how we will foster intramural and extramural networking among Grand Challenge Scholars.

A special thank you to a major donor of the program:
James R. Whiteley, BSE 1962 Mechanical Engineering, MS 1964 Industrial Engineering
Chief Executive Officer, Vail Systems, Deerfield, IL

For more information about the program, contact:
Kelli Delfosse
Director, Engineering Professional Development
The University of Iowa, College of Engineering
3124 Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts & Sciences
Iowa City, IA 52242