About the Grand Challenges Programs

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) identified 14 areas of critical urgency which were designated as the Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century.

The Grand Challenges cover the field of engineering ranging from the most basic of human needs (sustainable energy, providing access to clean water, managing the nitrogen cycle, managing your carbon footprint, restoring and improving urban infrastructure) to technical (enhancing virtual reality, providing energy from fusion, securing cyberspace, preventing nuclear terror) to the extraordinary (engineering better medicines, reverse engineering of the brain, advancing healthcare and informatics, and improving personalized learning) to discoveries for the future (engineering the tools of scientific discovery). Learn more at engineeringchallenges.org.

Solving these problems is the challenge which our future STEM students must meet.  Toward that end, the NAE has sponsored and supported the creation of programs focusing on the Grand Challenges for Engineering at both the undergraduate and K-12 levels. The Boeing K-12 Fellows program is closely linked with these programs, which aim to prepare the next generation of engineers to solve global grand challenges in areas ranging from environmental issues to human health. 

NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program

The NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program involves engineering schools from universities across the country in a combined curricular and extra-curricular program designed to prepare students to be the generation that solves the Grand Challenges facing society in this century. The program is structured around five components: research, interdisciplinary, global, service, and entrepreneurial. More than a dozen engineering schools now have active programs, and nearly fifty are in the processing of developing programs for formal approval. Information on the National Grand Challenge Scholars Program can be found at grandchallengescholars.org.

Duke Engineering’s NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program was the first program developed in the country, and is now in its fifth class of NAE Grand Challenge Scholars. More than 60 Duke engineering undergraduates have been or are involved in the program, completing portfolios encompassing all majors of Duke Engineering. Students begin involvement in their freshman year, and their portfolios involve all five components of the Grand Challenges concept.

Scholars are actively involved in outreach as part of their service component, and interact with the Boeing Outreach Fellows Program in a number of ways.  The scholars can develop 5-Part Make It Happen Plans, participate in Grand Challenge outreach activities, and can also be selected as Boeing Fellows.