January 25, 2017
Engineering faculty

January, 25, 2017

Faculty and alumni from The Catholic University of America School of Engineering met with National Academy of Engineering (NAE) president C.D. Mote, Jr., during a private luncheon at the NAE headquarters last week.

The meeting was held to discuss the University’s participation in the NAE’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP), a certificate program that prepares undergraduate engineering students to take on “grand challenges facing society in this century,” as outlined by a 2008 NAE blue-ribbon committee.

The Challenges consist of the toughest problems facing humanity in IT, energy, health, and security. Examples include making clean water universally available, renewing urban infrastructure, eliminating the threat of nuclear terror, making solar energy affordable, better understanding the brain, and improving learning access.

Catholic University’s School of Engineering was accepted as the 20th college and university program into the GCSP. So far, Catholic University is the only school in the Washington, D.C. area, and one of two Catholic institutions to receive this honor. Other GCSP schools include Duke, Georgia Tech, USC, Lafayette, and Bucknell. Internationally, the program has a partnership with the Royal Academy in London and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. 

According to Mote, the GCSP is designed to fulfill “a planetary vision of what engineering needs to do for society” in the 21st century. He hopes students will be energized and inspired by the overall vision of the program, which he described as “continuation of life on the planet, making our world more sustainable, safe, healthy, and joyful.”

Engineering Dean Charlie Nguyen says Catholic University’s program will celebrate its kick-off later this semester. It will operate like an honors program for adventurous engineering students who seek interdisciplinary training focused on research, entrepreneurship, multicultural understanding, and social consciousness. All undergraduate students who complete the program will receive a distinction of Grand Challenge Scholar, as endorsed by the NAE.

“We are proud to be the only Grand Challenge Scholars program in the D.C. area,” said Nguyen. “This program fits into the vision of Catholic University to serve humankind. We want to be a leader in fulfilling Pope Francis’ recent 21st Century Challenge to industry to form a new, more benevolent, social compact with the planet.”