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Grand Challenges Scholars Program

The Rollins College National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Program prepares pre-engineering and science majors to take on the biggest challenges facing humanity.

Why Become a Grand Challenges Scholar?

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) issued its Grand Challenges for Engineering, which presented an aspirational vision of what engineering must deliver to ensure continuation of life on the planet and make our world more sustainable, secure, healthy, and joyful. The NAE established 14 goals—ranging from engineering better medicines to providing access to clean water—that must be met in order to deliver this vision in the coming century.

Through Rollins’ Grand Challenges Scholars Program, pre-engineering and science students design a set of experiences that utilize Rollins’ theme-based general education program, collaborative research, and community engagement initiatives to address one of the 14 challenges.

Rollins Grand Challenges Scholars will design a personalized curriculum that includes a hands-on project or research experience, interdisciplinary experience and coursework, entrepreneurship experience, global perspective, and service learning.

Through the Grand Challenges Scholars Program, students are not only prepared to forge creative solutions to real and urgent problems but they also develop a clear path to future jobs that matter and professional engineering opportunities after graduation.

How to Apply

All students intending to major in one of the sciences at Rollins, including 3/2 pre-engineering students, are eligible to apply and participate, as long as they can complete the program requirements for on-time graduation.

Students are encouraged to apply in their first year at Rollins. Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the time of application and maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA throughout the program.

The annual application deadline is February 1. Students will submit their application to physics professor Christopher Fuse, coordinator of the Rollins GCSP. Applications are reviewed and approved by the GCSP Advisory Board.

Successful applications will:

  • Clearly identify one of the Grand Challenges or themes that the student is committed to addressing in their academic and professional endeavors
  • Address the importance of social and global issues that the selected Grand Challenge or theme raise
  • Provide a semester-by-semester plan for how the different competencies of the program will be met
  • Describe how participation in the program, including the specific approaches to meeting the competencies and completing their specific major, will prepare the student to contribute to addressing the selected Grand Challenge or theme

Applications will be evaluated based on completeness of the responses, clarity in articulating the chosen Grand Challenge or theme and its link to social and global issues, and demonstration of connections between selected approaches to achieving competencies and major with preparation to address a Grand Challenge or theme.


Christopher Fuse
Associate Professor of Physics | GCSP Coordinator
T. 407.691.1283

Choose Your Challenge

  1. Advance personalized learning
  2. Make solar energy economical
  3. Enhance virtual reality
  4. Reverse-engineer the brain
  5. Engineer better medicines
  6. Advance health informatics
  7. Restore and improve urban infrastructure
  8. Secure cyberspace
  9. Provide access to clean water
  10. Provide energy from fusion
  11. Prevent nuclear terror
  12. Manage the nitrogen cycle
  13. Develop carbon sequestration methods
  14. Engineer the tools of scientific discovery

Learn more about the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Competencies & Requirements

The NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) has identified five competencies that a student must achieve in order to best prepare them to address a problem of global importance.

1. Talent

Mentored research/creative experience on a Grand Challenge topic

Program requirement: Students will participate in the capstone rFLA course and undertake a theme-based research project and present their results at the rFLA Symposium. Students prepare for this research/creative experience as they progress through their rFLA coursework, focusing on a single rFLA theme (Cultural Collision, Environments, Innovation, Enduring Questions, or Identities) that supports the Grand Challenge they have embraced or by moving among themes to build the expertise needed for their specific challenge.

GCSP students can also meet the talent competency by participating in Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Program.

2. Multidisciplinary

Understanding multidisciplinarity of engineering systems solutions developed through personal engagement

Program requirement: The first four courses in the rFLA general education program introduce students to the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences, culminating in an interdisciplinary capstone. These courses will provide students the multidisciplinary toolkit for problem solving. To achieve this specific competency, GCSP students will select one of the first four rFLA courses with a multidisciplinary focus that aligns with the student’s overall preparation to address a specific challenge. This course may not be used to fulfill any other GCSP competency but will count toward the Rollins rFLA requirements.

3. Viable Business/Entrepreneurship

Understanding, preferably developed through experience, of the necessity of a viable business model for solution implementation

Program requirement: Rollins offers both a social entrepreneurship and a social innovation major, in addition to majors in economics, business management, and international business. Students choose one course within these five majors that aligns with their professional development to address their Grand Challenge. The course selection must be approved by the GCSP coordinator and include sufficient business/entrepreneurship education to meet the goals of the program. Recommended courses include SE 100 Social Entrepreneurship: Leading Change, SI 200 Introduction to Social Innovation,
 MGT 101 Introduction to Responsible Business Management, and INB 200 Introduction to International Business.

4. Multicultural

Understanding different cultures, preferably through multicultural experiences, to ensure cultural acceptance of engineering solutions

Program requirement: GCSP students can complete this competency by completing any one of the following:

  • Successful completion of one rFLA course in the Cultures Collide theme group. The course selection must be approved by the GCSP coordinator and will count as one of the five required Foundations courses
  • Participation in a Rollins semester abroad program
  • Participation in a Rollins field study
  • Participation in a Rollins international summer program
  • Participation in a non-Rollins program approved by both the Director of Global Initiatives and the GCSP coordinator

5. Social Consciousness

Understanding that engineering solutions should primarily serve people and society reflecting social consciousness

Program requirement: The Rollins College Conference (RCC) helps students understand why we emphasize an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to learning at Rollins. Students will participate in SPARC Day, a full day of community engagement and service with their RCC class and a community partner.

GCSP students will be required to engage in an experience that serves people and society, reflecting social consciousness by completing one course, preferably within their major, with a community engagement (CE) designation or by successful completing an Immersion experience.