NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program


The ANU is the first Australian university to be accepted into the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP).  This program provides a framework for students to be recognised from their studies for working on some of the greatest challenges facing engineering across human realms of sustainability, health, security and the joy of living.  Students who can demonstrate they have applied five key elements required for a modern engineer to one or more of the 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering for the 21st Century identified by the NAE, are eligible to receive an additional certificate awarded by the NAE recognising them as a Grand Challenge Scholar (GCS).

Activities contributing to this can be drawn from any experiences while a student, including formal courses, research, internships, work experience, extra-curricular volunteering and involvement in student societies.  More information on the GCSP from the NAE is available here with the 14 Grand Challenges are listed here.

Eligibility Requirements:

All students can apply to be involved in the GCSP.  It is recommended students apply in their first or second year to enable enough time to plan to achieve the five elements of the framework.  Students in later years can apply but will need to demonstrate they have already met some of the framework elements.

How to apply:

In applying you should consider you interests, motivations and previous experiences.  Think about which of the Grand Challenge(s) you are interested in, and what initiatives, experiences, activities and courses you could undertake to meet the 5 elements.

Apply to join the ANU NAE GCSP community via an application on the Program Wattle site here. Document your interests, previous experiences and plans using the template provided. Your application will be assessed by the GCSP Committee in the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science based on your plan and level of commitment.

Recognition as a GCSP:

Once accepted on the Program, you will need to track and update your progress against the 5 elements through a portfolio.  As a minimum you will need to update your progress annually through the Program Wattle site.  It is suggested you capture your journey through elements such as images, videos and reflections.  These can help with your final application as well as providing outcomes for future employment opportunities and recognition.

Once you think you have met the attainment levels to be recognised as a NAE Grand Challenge Scholar, prepare your final application.  This includes:

a.   a table summarising your experiences demonstrating your attainment of the 5 elements of the GCSP.

b.  a 1-page written statement on the impact becoming a Scholar has had on you as a student and how you want to continue to create positive impact.

c.   an artefact that captures your Grand Challenge Scholar journey, such as a video, a model, or a prototype.

Applications will be reviewed on a 6-monthly basis, and it is suggested you aim to submit your application the semester before you intend to graduate, to provide time to make changes if required.  If your application is successful, you will be nominated to the NAE to receive a certificate recognising you as a NAE Grand Challenge Scholar.  Certificates are typically received in May/June each year (the end of the teaching year in the northern hemisphere), although once your application to the ANU is successful, you can use the title.

Funding Support:

A small amount of funding is available for student opportunities and project opportunities until June 2018.  Grants of up to $2k can be used for support activities such as travel or building prototypes.  Funds must be used be activities that will contribute to a student achieving their GCSP requirement.  Interested students should complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) before being asked to complete a full application. 

Contact Jeremy Smith for the EOI template or to ask questions or discuss opportunities.

Student stories:

An article for ANU acceptance into the GCSP is here

The GCSP aligns with humanitarian engineering at ANU.  Humanitarian engineering is an emerging application of engineering to achieve positive social and community change and development.  ANU has a rich tradition of humanitarian engineering and you can find stories from graduates and current students here:

Huy Nguyen

Rebecca Watts

Sam Palmer

Humanitarian Engineering graduates

ANU’s involvement in the GCSP is led by ANU research engineer who was recently recognised for innovative approaches to education:

Further Information:

Many of the opportunities available to current students can be incorporated into individual’s GCSP.  Activities and opportunities available to students are here

Opportunities available at ANU for humanitarian engineering, as well as more information and FAQs are here

See the attached file for information on how the 14 Grand Challenges align with CECS research interests and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


For any questions or queries about the GCSP contact the Student Experience team at CECS Student Services

Application closing date

31 December 2020
Study level: 

Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing