Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Young student explaining his project while pointing to his poster presentation

The National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) at FAMU-FSU Engineering supports diverse undergraduate student leaders who are ready to engage with—and help solve—the global grand challenges engineers face today. 

While studying engineering as an undergraduate, why not tap into your passion for making the world a better place? Undergraduates can infuse their engineering coursework with social issues, environmental work and other pressing issues that make up the NAE Grand Challenges. What better way to build experience, camaraderie and a resume than working and learning alongside peers, mentors and faculty that have a shared vision for discovery.


GCSP Scholars tailor their undergraduate experience to:

  • Learn about, explore and make progress towards solving one of the 14 NAE-identified Grand Challenges
  • Focus on one of the four NAE GCSP research themes
  • Build their competencies through educational opportunities and experiences focused on engaging with research, interdisciplinary, entrepreneurship, global citizenship and service-learning.


The NAE Grand Challenges

In 2008, an international group of leading technological thinkers were asked to identify the Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st century. These Grand Challenges fall into four cross-cutting themes: HEALTH, SUSTAINABILITY, SECURITY and JOY OF LIVING.



  • Provide access to clean water
  • Engineer better medicines
  • Reverse-engineer the brain
  • Advance health informatics



  • Provide energy from fusion
  • Develop carbon sequestration methods
  • Restore and improve urban infrastructure
  • Manage the nitrogen cycle
  • Make solar energy economical



  • Prevent nuclear terror
  • Secure cyberspace


Joy of Living

  • Advance personalized learning
  • Enhance virtual reality
  • Engineer the tools of scientific discovery


FAMU-FSU Engineering GCSP Elements

Completing the GCSP means meeting the expectations for each of the five program elements:

  • Research experience
  • Interdisciplinary coursework and/or experience
  • Entrepreneurship coursework and/or experience
  • Global dimensions coursework and/or experience
  • Service-learning experience

Each student focuses on an NAE Grand Challenge and Research Theme. Students may complete some program elements while studying abroad, during an internship or work experience or at a student's host university campus - either at FAMU or FSU. 


FAMU-FSU Engineering GCSP Scholar Selection and Tracking Process

The FAMU-FSU Engineering GCSP aims to involve a diverse cohort of undergraduate students from both FAMU and FSU. An undergraduate at any level may apply for the program. Scholar selection and performance decisions are made in spring semesters. Approving GCSP Final Portfolios for graduating seniors and rewarding and acknowledging the work being done by all Scholars also takes place in spring semesters. 


Applying to the Program

Applicants must be in good academic standing to apply and should submit this form. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and decisions are usually made in the middle of the spring semester.



Creating, developing, and sustaining a network of GCSP scholars and alumni

The FAMU-FSU Engineering GCSP intends to create a point of connection for graduates of the GCSP to stay connected with the college and the Grand Challenges that engineers face today. As the community of GCSP Scholar alumni grows at the FAMU-FSU COE, it will develop its own methods of involvement and sustained connection. Former GCSP Scholars (and others) may submit their own service-learning and entrepreneurship ideas to the program, connect and work with current, and former, GCSP Scholars. 


Kassie Ernst, Ph.D.

Kassie Ernst, Ph.D.
First-Year Engineering Faculty and
Grand Challenges Scholars Program Director
(850) 410-6279