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Work-in-Progress: Defining Criteria to Evaluate Achievement of the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program Competencies

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Assessment in Multidisciplinary Learning Environment

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Haolin Zhu Arizona State University

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Dr. Haolin Zhu earned her BEng in Engineering Mechanics from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and her Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University, with a focus on computational solid mechanics. Dr. Zhu is a Senior Lecturer of the freshman engineering education team in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University (ASU) and the recipient of the Fulton Outstanding Lecturer Award. In this role, she focuses on designing the curriculum and teaching in the freshman engineering program and the mechanical engineering program. She is also the Assistant Director of the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) at ASU and works closely with the Director to ensure the success of the program. Dr. Zhu is also involved in the ASU ProMod project, the Engineering Projects in Community Service program, the Engineering Futures program, the Global Freshman Academy/Earned Admission Program, and the ASU Kern Project. She was a part of the team that designed a largely team and activity based online Introduction to Engineering course. She has also co-developed two unique MOOCs, Introduction to Engineering and Perspectives on Grand Challenges for Engineering for the Global Freshman Academy/ASU Earned Admission Program. Her Ph.D. research focuses on multi-scale multiphase modeling and numerical analysis of coupled large viscoelastic deformation and fluid transport in swelling porous materials, but she is currently interested in various topics in the field of engineering education, such as innovative teaching pedagogies for increased retention and student motivation; innovations in non-traditional delivery methods, incorporation of the Entrepreneurial Mindset in the engineering curriculum and its impact.

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Amy Trowbridge Arizona State University

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Amy Trowbridge is a Senior Lecturer in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University and is the Director of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) at ASU. Through the GCSP, Amy aims to prepare students to become globally and socially aware engineers who will lead future efforts to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Amy also helps new schools to develop GCSPs as part of the GCSP Network New Programs committee. She is also actively involved in the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), focused on students’ development of entrepreneurial mindset through GCSP and curriculum. Amy received the 2019 KEEN Rising Star award for her efforts in encouraging students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Amy has contributed to the development of a new hands-on multidisciplinary introduction to engineering course, a unique introduction to engineering MOOC, and another MOOC focused on exploring global challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective. She is interested in curricular and co-curricular experiences that broaden students’ perspectives and enhance student learning, and values students' use of Digital Portfolios to reflect on and showcase their accomplishments. Amy earned her Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Arizona State University (ASU), and is currently pursuing her PhD in Engineering Education Systems and Design.

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Work-in-Progress: Defining Criteria to Evaluate Achievement of the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program Competencies

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) identified fourteen Grand Challenges for Engineering, representing the goals necessary to realize the vision for Engineering in the 21st century: “Continuation of life on the planet, making our world more sustainable, secure, healthy, and joyful.” [1] To prepare engineering graduates who possess not only strong technical skills but also the global awareness and social skills necessary to tackle the challenges, the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) was proposed and established by three founding Deans and endorsed by the NAE as an educational supplement to any engineering program both within the U.S. and internationally. To date, over 90 institutions have established their GCSP. These programs vary across the institutions, but they all aim to prepare graduates who have achieved the following five competencies identified by NAE GCSP [2]: 1. Talent Competency: mentored research/creative project experience on a Grand Challenge-like topic 2. Multidisciplinary Competency: understanding multidisciplinarity of engineering systems solutions developed through personal engagement 3. Viable Business/Entrepreneurship: understanding, preferably developed through experience, of the necessity of a viable business model for solution implementation 4. Multicultural Competency: understanding different cultures, preferably through multicultural experiences, to ensure cultural acceptance of proposed engineering solutions 5. Social Consciousness Competency: understanding that engineering solutions should primarily serve people and society reflecting social consciousness

These competencies define the goals of GCSP, but the ways in which these competencies can be achieved and the level of engagement required is left for each institution to define on their own. Even within an institution, how the Grand Challenges scholars may achieve each competency often varies. For example, some scholars may complete course(s) while others may engage in experience(s) in order to achieve each competency. And the types of courses and experiences students are involved in also vary. Few attempts have been made to define criteria to evaluate whether a particular student experience or course meets the desired outcomes of each competency. Developing clear criteria for each competency could be used to help students better understand what type of course(s) and experience(s) could potentially count toward a competency. The criteria could also be used to help program administrators and/or committees to determine whether a scholar has demonstrated achievement of the competency through a course(s) or experience(s) they completed. The authors have made an attempt to define the criteria for each of the five competencies for [Institution] GCSP. These criteria were informed by the desired outcomes found in literature for each competency, and the experiences of NAE GCSP graduates who have successfully demonstrated their achievements of the competency. The criteria defined provide clear guidelines for Grand Challenges scholars but are also general enough to accommodate different types of courses and experiences that students may choose to complete as they define their own paths in GCSP based on their interests. These criteria fill a gap in the rapidly growing GCSP community and may benefit institutions with established GCSPs as well as institutions that are planning to establish their GCSP.


[1] C. D. Mote, “Realizing the Vision of the Grand Challenges for Engineering Depends on the Grand Challenges Scholars Program,” NAE Website, 08-Oct-2017. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 16-Oct-2020].

[2] NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program, “NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program,” Grand Challenges - NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 16-Oct-2020].

Zhu, H., & Trowbridge, A. (2021, July), Work-in-Progress: Defining Criteria to Evaluate Achievement of the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program Competencies Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38215

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