Grand Challenge Scholars Program

  • Grand Challenge Scholars Program

    Grand Challenge Scholars Program

artwork for The Complete Engineer
The Complete Engineer - Intercultural Appreciation Icon The Complete Engineer - Leadership Icon The Complete Engineer - Teamwork Icon The Complete Engineer - Self-Management Icon The Complete Engineer - Service and Civic Responsibility Icon The Complete Engineer - Understanding of Engineering Ethics Icon

Jen Skidmore
Director of Student Development

Grand Challenge Scholars Program

The Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering is a self-paced program ideal for the socially-conscious engineering honors student who wants to have an impact on the world's most pressing issues. Whether you are interested in providing access to clean water or restoring urban infrastructure, this program provides you an experiential path to understanding and potentially providing solutions to the National Academy of Engineering's Grand Challenges.

The GCSP aims to develop the engineering leaders needed to confront these global challenges. This program inspires students to become more socially conscious, innovative, passionate and engaged in the field of engineering. Nebraska's GCSP encourages students to tailor their learning experience beyond traditional coursework, preparing Scholars to enter the workforce equipped with the tools and skills necessary to have an impact on the issues our world faces today.

The GCSP consists of five components aimed at equipping Scholars with the skills necessary to confront Engineering's Grand Challenges:

  1. Talent Competency
  2. Multidisciplinary
  3. Viable Business/Entrepreneurship
  4. Multicultural
  5. Social Consciousness

The program requires Scholars to complete a course, hands-on experience, or other relevant activity along with a reflection for each component (See "Curriculum" for complete details for each component). You get to choose how you want to complete each component within the guidelines and can even propose your own ideas. You will receive approval and guidance on how to make the most of each component while specializing in your Grand Challenge. Each experience will be submitted to your online portfolio to cultivate your collective work on your Grand Challenge of choice. 

Who Can Be a Grand Challenge Scholar?

  • All current first-year students who are enrolled full-time in the College of Engineering AND are part of UNL or UNO Honors Programs are eligible to apply. Both Scott Campus and City Campus students are eligible. 
  • Current first-year students who are in the process of applying to either Honors Program as a current student are also eligible to apply. Acceptance into the GCSP for these applicants is also contingent on acceptance to UNL or UNO Honors Program.

Program Benefits

  • Ability and support to focus your engineering and honors education on one of the Grand Challenges of Engineering, giving you the potential to have an impact on society and the world
  • Gain skills that give you a competitive advantage for jobs, internships/co-ops, and graduate or professional school through building your capacity with the 5 GCSP components
  • Renewable Scholarship to support your participation in this program
  • Grand Challenge Scholar Program certificate from the College of Engineering at completion
  • A three-year membership (good during fall/spring terms only) to the Nebraska Innovation Studio (Lincoln, NE) or Omaha Maker Group
  • Professional headshots and profile on UNL's GCSP Website

Program Elements
The requirements for the GCSP align with both the UNL and UNO Honors program requirements and all the College of Engineering degree program curricula. The aim of this collaboration is to build upon the multidisciplinary curriculum and hands-on experiences you gain through these Honors programs and support you focusing your scholarly work on one of the Grand Challenges of Engineering. Scholars who are focused, motivated, and plan ahead should be able to complete all requirements for their degree program, respective Honors program and the GCSP without extending their time to graduation. See sample programs here.

Here's How it Works

  1. Apply for the program during your first year at UNL or UNO. While GPA is not considered in selecting the Grand Challenge Scholar cohort each year, all program participants need to remain in good standing with the UNL or UNO Honors Program and the College of Engineering to stay in the program.
  2. Once accepted, during the second semester of your first year, Scholars will submit a proposal (downloadable file) to the GCSP committee outlining how you plan to approach and develop within the five components of the program.
  3. The committee will review your proposal and work collaboratively with you on acceptable changes to ensure your proposal meets the guidelines of the program. * Note: You can request changes to your proposal as you move through the program, subject to approval by the GCSP committee.
  4. Once approved, it is up to each scholar to meet the terms of the agreed-upon proposal.
  5. Scholars will gain deep knowledge of the Grand Challenges throughout their time in the college, as you will be required to participate in regular programming each semester to complement your work in the program, such as speakers or workshops related to the Grand Challenges.