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WVU to participate in elite NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program

A picture of the Statler College wall.

West Virginia University has been designated as part of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program, a combined curricular and extra-curricular program with five components that are designed to prepare students to address the grand challenges facing society in this century.


The 14 NAE Grand Challenges range from complex yet critical goals such as engineering better medicines, making solar energy cost-competitive with coal, securing cyberspace and advancing personalized learning tools to deliver better education to more individuals. The challenges were selected by a panel of 18 engineers, technologists and futurists and were officially announced in 2008 by late NAE President and WVU alumnus Charles Vest.

Students enrolled in the Mountaineer Grand Challenge Scholars Program will be provided with unique educational opportunities and experiences that will be professionally rewarding, said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

“As a land-grant institution, WVU has a commitment to delivering a quality education, ripe with discovery and innovation,” said Cilento. “The Mountaineer Grand Challenge Scholars Program will provide students with the opportunity to tackle issues that have a societal and global impact while working in diverse teams with others across the University.”

Students will be eligible to participate in the program as early as their freshman year. Implementation of the program will begin this academic year with the first class of scholars scheduled to be selected in fall 2018. Selected students will received a special educational enhancement award of up to $1,000 that can be used to offset travel costs, research supplies or other justifiable expenses related to the program.

“We plan to offer a number of information sessions each semester to introduce students to the program and explain the application process,” Cilento said. “We will set up a student organization to introduce them to program mentors, provide an overview of projects and experiences and advance the elements of the program.”

David Wyrick, associate dean for academic affairs in the Statler College, will direct the program.

The Mountaineer GCSP is comprised to include an academic minor of 16 credits. Students must take courses to satisfy the academic components of the minor plus complete two experiential learning in at least two of the five components of the program: interdisciplinary, research, entrepreneurship, global and service learning. The minor will also feature a GCSP capstone experience.

“Students will have a wide range of options to meet the requirements of the program,” Cilento said. “For instance, to fulfill the interdisciplinary component they can choose to be involved in one of our many student project teams, student government or the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition. Working with our industrial extension program or WVU’s LaunchLab could be options for the entrepreneurship component.

“We will strongly encourage students to integrate a meaningful learning abroad experience into the program,” Cilento added. “For those that cannot study abroad, we will allow other appropriate cultural studies so they can gain an appreciation for the diversity of cultures within the United States.”

More than 50 national universities have developed Grand Challenge Scholars Programs including Duke University, Bucknell, Clemson, Georgia Tech, MIT, North Carolina State University, University of Texas, Ohio State University and Notre Dame. GCSP programs are offered internationally at the Australian National University, City University of Hong Kong, National University of Singapore, Peking University and Taylor’s University of Malaysia.



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Phone: 304-293-4135