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Reviewing the Current State of Grand Challenge Scholars Programs Across the United States

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Engaging Faculty Across Disciplines, Colleges, and Institutions

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors

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Sarah Donaher Clemson University


Claire L. A. Dancz Clemson University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Claire L.A. Dancz is a Research Assistant Professor at Clemson University. Dr. Dancz's research interests include developing active, experiential-learning activities on topics of NAE Engineering Grand Challenges, UN Sustainable Development Goals, sustainability for civil engineers, and assessment of student-learning outcomes and motivation towards these topics, with emphasis on online platforms for delivering these educational opportunities and service-oriented engineering programs in which students can take actions towards these topics. As a Kolbe™ Certified Consultant, Dr. Dancz uses conative assessment to empower individuals with diverse problem-solving instincts to improve productivity, communication, leadership, and impact the diversity of engineers as global change-makers.

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Jeffery M. Plumblee II Clemson University

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Jeff Plumblee, PhD, MBA is a Research Assistant Professor with joint appointments in Engineering & Science Education and Civil Engineering at Clemson University. Plumblee creates, directs, assesses, and grows engagement opportunities for students, including experiential-learning and project-based community engagement opportunities. Plumblee’s primary interests are in engineering and innovation in resource constrained environments and seeking ways to offer these programs to a broader audience, including partnering with other universities and developing online platforms for community engagement courses. Plumblee is the Founding Director of Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries, a student-driven program that provides sustainable solutions to improve the quality of life of those in developing countries. Plumblee is the Founding Advisor for Tigers for Multigenerational Technology Implementation, which is a partnership with a local retirement community to develop tech-based solutions for aging populations. He also serves as Director of Clemson's Grand Challenge Scholars Program.

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Aaron S. Gordon Clemson University

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Aaron Gordon is a Senior Civil Engineering major at Clemson University with extensive experience in sustainable development, construction, and project management in Haiti. He has spent almost a year in Haiti’s rural Central Plateau on projects ranging from repairing small schools, water distribution/treatment systems, sanitation infrastructure, and aquaculture programs. Additionally, he is the founding director of Clemson’s chapter of Grand Challenge Scholars.

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Khushikumari Patel Clemson University

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Khushi Patel is an Engineering and Science Education graduate student at Clemson University. She received her undergraduate degree in Chemistry with a minor in secondary education from Millsaps College. She also holds a secondary license to teacher chemistry and general science for middle and high schools in the states of Mississippi and Tennessee. She received her master’s degree in Inorganic chemistry from Tennessee State University.

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In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) identified the Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century representing the fourteen most pressing issues facing modern society requiring engineering innovation. To equip the next generation of engineers with the tools to address these challenges and create global sustainable solutions, engineering education must expose students to these Grand Challenges during their undergraduate studies. More than 120 engineering schools across the country have committed to producing at least twenty students specifically equipped to tackle these challenges through the NAE's Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP). The GCSP aims to progress undergraduate engineering around global issues rather than isolated disciplines and help students in the program develop skills in five components: Research Experience, Interdisciplinary Curriculum, Entrepreneurship, Global Dimension, and Service-Learning.

To date, there are no specified requirements for each of the program components; students attaining the NAE Grand Challenge Scholar designation can achieve this recognition in a variety of ways based on the institution’s requirements. For example, at one institution students are required to have industry experience outside the United States for Global Dimension, while at other institutions students are required to study abroad or take cross-cultural courses. In an effort to understand the variation between the thirty-five active GCSPs and corresponding variant student capabilities, each institution’s program and student requirements were analyzed via information provided on the NAE GCSP website and available from individual institutions’ websites. In this paper, the authors highlight the range of experiences and immersion required for each program component and detail unique and innovative practices. Ultimately, the goal of this work is to track similarities and differences between Grand Challenge Scholars Programs and drive towards a more thorough understanding of student-learning outcomes and experiences.

Donaher, S., & Dancz, C. L. A., & Plumblee, J. M., & Gordon, A. S., & Patel, K. (2017, June), Reviewing the Current State of Grand Challenge Scholars Programs Across the United States Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28806

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015