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Grand Challenge Scholars Program

NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program

The NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program, which is within the Cook Grand Challenge Honors Program, is an initiative of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and is designed to prepare students to be the generation that solves the grand challenges facing society. To complete this ambitious program, students must meet with our Honors faculty to form an individualized plan of curricular and extracurricular experiences that must include:

A research experience related to one of the 14 NAE Grand Challenges.

Student can fulfill this requirement by:
a) Completion of an undergraduate research experience with a UT faculty member in his/her laboratory, with a Grand Challenge theme. This experience will be arranged under the rules for engineering independent study courses, that is, a written scope of work document is prepared at the beginning of the project and agreed to by both the student and research mentor. The student may receive technical elective course credit for this work, although the GCSP advisor can approve alternative arrangements that are acceptable to both the student and research mentor. The GCSP advisor will assist the student in making arrangements for the research experience. This experience must result in a mentor approved paper or poster, and student presented results, either at EUReCA (Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement, UT’s annual poster competition for undergraduate research), UT Honors Symposium, or other professional presentation format approved by GCSP advisor.
b) Or, completion of an independent design or entrepreneurship project with a Grand Challenge theme. Project must have a mentor who is a UT professor. As above, a mentor approved paper or poster is the end result, and professional presentation of results is expected. In this case, the GCSP advisor must also approve the subject of the project and presentation format.

Interdisciplinary coursework that prepares a student to work at the boundary of engineering with public policy, business, ethics, risk, and human behavior.

Students will fulfill this requirement by:

Taking coursework from three areas, a) interdisciplinary honors courses, b) interdisciplinary courses offered as part of the UT-HELM minor, or c) courses approved by a GCSP advisor. The selection of these courses will be part of the students curricular connectivity plan decided on in conjunction with the GCSP advisor. In category a), students will take a UH 100 seminar, and at least one other course from the available list (four credit hours total) described below. These interdisciplinary honors courses count towards the twenty-five credit hour honors course requirement for an honors degree. In category b), the minimum requirement is six credit hours, and these courses count towards the students UT-HELM minor.

a) Interdisciplinary Honors Courses

The Chancellors Honors program offers UT faculty the opportunity to propose interdisciplinary coursework to be taught to the honors students. These courses are listed as UH (University Honors) and must emphasize the intersection of multiple study areas. Engineering honors students count these courses as part of the general education requirements for their degree.

Among those currently available are:
UNHO 257 – Honors: Special Topics in the Arts and Humanities
3 Credit Hours – Examination of a selected issue in the arts and/or humanities from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Topics vary.

UNHO 267 – Honors: Special Topic in the Social Sciences
3 Credit Hours – Examination of a selected issue in the social sciences from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Topics vary.

UNHO 277 – Honors: Special Topics in Cultures and Civilizations
3 Credit Hours – Examination of a selected global or cultural issue from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Topics vary.

UNHO 287 – Honors: Special Topics in the Natural Sciences
3 Credit Hours – Examination of a selected issue in the natural sciences from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Topics vary.

b) Interdisciplinary Coursework offered through UT-HELM

EF 337 Developing Leadership Skills or Management 331. This course is required for UT-HELM. Focuses on developing leadership skills. Provides students with self-assessment, developmental exercises, and case studies to prepare them for leadership roles.

Philosophy 244 Professional Responsibility.  Critical analysis of selected texts from philosophy and other fields dealing with responsibility and the nature of professionalism. Theoretical principles and analytical skills applied to selected case studies and other detailed descriptions of professional practice.

Psychology 440 Organizational Psychology. This course is optional for UT-HELM. Social Psychological analysis of organizations emphasizing role theory and systems theory.

Communications Studies 442 Organizational Communication Processes. This course is optional for UT-HELM. Organizational setting and those variables of the communication process that affect the quality of human interaction both within and outside the organization.

An entrepreneurship experience to prepare students to translate invention to innovation.

Requirement will be fulfilled by taking:

EF 357 Introduction to Entrepreneurship or Management 350. This course is required for UT-HELM. An introduction to entrepreneurship with an emphasis on identifying, evaluating, and developing new venture opportunities. Topics include opportunity identification and evaluation, start-up strategies, business valuation, business plan development, attracting stakeholders, financing the venture, managing the growing business, and exit strategies.

Student may also take:

Management 451 – New Venture Planning (optional for UT-HELM) Integration of various functional disciplines and their application to general management of new ventures within established companies and entrepreneurial enterprises. Focuses on the components necessary for the development of a business plan.

Management 460 – Leading Innovation and Change (optional for UT-HELM) This course covers how managers identify and nurture new business opportunities while maintaining competitive advantage. Topics include examination of change models, the role of middle managers in large organizations, and ways to address resistance to change.

Other coursework available through the entrepreneurship minor as approved by a GCSP advisor.

A global experience to build the student’s perspective of these global issues.

As a requirement for their honors degree, students must:

Complete an approved international experience. In most cases this is a study abroad experience, but international internships, and in some cases, coursework and accompanying project with intercultural content is acceptable. Because an international experience is a critical element of becoming a Grand Challenge Scholar, the students international experience plan must be a part of their GCSP plan of study and approved by the GCSP advisor. The GCSP advisor will not approve plans that do not involve international travel and engagement with a different culture.

A service learning experience to deepen the student’s motivation to bring their technical expertise to bear on societal problems.

Requirement will be fulfilled by:

Taking UH 267. This course is required for UT-HELM. This course is a component of a partnership between the College of Education and the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy to promote the full service school concept to currently underserved schools in the Knoxville area. Students combine classroom work on the concepts and traditions of service learning with conducting independent projects in local elementary schools.

UH 267 Service Learning, 3 Credits
This class will immerse you in a local community to provide you with a new way of learning through service. Success in any field requires not only knowledge of your discipline but skill in taking initiative and fostering interconnectedness with peers and the community. This class builds specifically on this basis by emphasizing the mutual benefits of service for both the community and the students. Components of this course will include weekly journals, weekly service activities in local underserved schools, interdisciplinary discussions and speakers, and creative, self-designed projects.

As an alternative, students may petition an alternate service learning experience to their GCSP advisor.

Planning and Documentation

Students in this program are expected to act independently, know all requirements of the program, and bring problems to the attention of the GCSP director promptly. They have the responsibility of choosing their interdisciplinary and optional coursework wisely, proposing a plan that has thematic continuity and connectivity. A yearly plan update meeting with the Director is required.

A narrative Portfolio is required at the end of the program that summarizes how the requirements were met, including any substitutions that were requested and approved, and a reflection on the total GCSP program both from the perspective of what the student felt they gained from the experience, and how the program could be improved. Documentation should include course syllabi, significant projects, and copies of published research results.

Note: Overlaps of the NAE Grand Challenge Scholar Program with the Chancellor’s Honors Program and UT-HELM requirements are noted above.


Tracking Progress

NAE Grand Challenge Scholar candidates meet with the Honors faculty periodically to set short term goals and track progress towards the long term goal of completing all requirements. Students graduating from this program will be designated a NAE Grand Challenge Scholar and recognized individually during Commencement. They will also be nationally recognized with their peers from other participating schools on the NAE website.

NAE Grand Challenge Scholars are expected to fulfill one of these requirements at the extensive level, two at the intermediate level, and two at the introductory level. View examples of effort levels for NAE Scholars.

The overarching Cook Grand Challenge Honors Program has been designed in an effort to motivate larger numbers of students to contribute to solving the Grand Challenges. In addition to completing honors coursework, all engineering honors students must now also complete two breadth requirements which are chosen from the five curricular and extracurricular experiences listed above. We hope that many of these students will discover the value in broadening their education in this way and choose to complete the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program.

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