GC_banner_triangleThe Lafayette College Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) is premised on the belief that solving complex challenges necessitates innovative solutions with contributions from both engineering and the liberal arts. The purpose of the GCSP at Lafayette College is to encourage undergraduates to acquire the disciplinary expertise, breadth of knowledge, and the social, ethical, technical, and environmental awareness to successfully address the challenges.

Why become a Grand Challenge Scholar?

Grand Challenge scholars are recognized as members of a selective group who have gone beyond the typical undergraduate expectations with a combined curricular and co-curricular program that includes five components as specified by the NAE:

  1. Project or research experience related to a specific Grand Challenge
  2. Interdisciplinary curriculum at the intersection of engineering and the liberal arts
  3. Entrepreneurship curricular or co-curricular experience
  4. Multicultural curricular or co-curricular experience
  5. Service Learning curricular or co-curricular experience

Students who complete the five components of the program successfully will receive a designation of Grand Challenge Scholar endorsed by Lafayette College and the National Academy of Engineering. Grand Challenge scholars are viewed with distinction by faculty, colleagues, graduate schools, and employers.

Detailed description of GCSP components

1. Project or Research Experience: Each GC scholar must participate in a multidisciplinary team project related to a specific Grand Challenge problem as described below.

  • The project must have two or more students and they must be from at least two different major programs.
  • The proposal and the summary report must:
    – Include a detailed description of the Grand Challenge
    – demonstrate that the students appreciate the complex interdependencies of science, technology, and society
    – identify key questions
    – include a list of deliverables
    – identify stakeholders impacted by the challenge
    – include a budget and justification
    – include an anticipated plan, including a timeline, that will be used in addressing the challenge
  • Funding for project expenses is up to $4,000 per project. Budgets must be approved by the faculty mentor and must also be approved by the GC chair. All purchases must be approved by the GC shair prior to ordering.
  • When budgets allow, GC at Lafayette will provide a limited amount of funding for on-campus student housing during the summer/interim. These funds will be competitively awarded and must be fully justified.
  • Students may apply for funding for travel costs to present their projects at conferences. This is expected to be competitively awarded.

2. Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Each GC scholar must participate in a curriculum that prepares them to work at the intersection between engineering and the liberal arts. Students must complete an interdisciplinary cluster of three courses outside of one’s major department that relates to the Grand Challenge being investigated.

  • Only one course can be in the student’s “home” division (humanities, social science, engineering, natural science). If a student is in an interdisciplinary major, than two of the courses must be outside the home divisions.
  • If the student is a non-engineering major, one of the courses must be an engineering course.
  • None of the courses used in the cluster may be at the 100 level (with the exception of a GC based First-Year Seminar)
  • Courses used to satisfy this component of the GCSP may also be used to satisfy Lafayette’s Common Course of Study.

3. Entrepreneurship: Each GC scholar must participate in a curricular or co-curricular component on the process of translating invention and innovation into market ventures. This may be either risk-taking ventures for business or introducing technology for not-for-profits in the public interest. Do one of the following:

  • Participate in 15 hours of co-curricular programming related to entrepreneurship that is approved by the GCSP Steering Committee.
  • Complete an entrepreneurship course such as ECON 339: Foundations of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development’
  • Work on non-profit or entrepreneurial enterprise for at least 2 months
  • Participate in a business start-up competition such as Student Startup Madness (SSM), USASBE Lauch!, or The Hult Prize.
  • Other activities can be submitted to the GCSP Steering Committee for consideration of satisfying this component.

4. Global Dimension: Each GC Scholar must participate in a curricular or co-curricular component that instills elements necessary to develop innovations in a global economy, or address ethical issues of global concern. Domestic activities that stress global or cross-cultural implications may satisfy this component. Do one of the following:

  • Complete a semester or interim study abroad program.
  • Complete (2) additional Global and Multicultural designated (GM1 and/or GM2) courses beyond the Common Course of Study. The student must provide rationale to the GC Committee describing the connections among the cluster of courses and how they relate to the GC being investigated.

5. Service Learning: Each GC Scholar must participate in a curricular or co-curricular component that deepens their social awareness and aims to heighten their motivation to bring their expertise to bear on societal problems. Do one of the following:

  • Actively participate for one semester or summer in a global service organization such as Engineers Without Borders, or Alternate Spring Break. Report and present on the activities of the group, your contribution, and the outcomes of the efforts.
  • Actively participate for one semester in the College’s community outreach programs. Report on the activities of the group, your contribution, and the outcomes of the efforts.
  • Participate on a semester long Community Based Learning and Research service project. Present the results during a poster session.

*Courses and activities used to satisfy one component of GCSP may not be used to satisfy another set of GC requirements, however, they may be used to fulfill applicable sections of the College’s Common Course of Study or other degree requirements.

*Upon completing the five requirements of the GCSP, students must submit an application to complete the Grand Challenge Scholar Program. Part of this application is an essay where the student relates the five components to their selected Grand Challenge and shows how they have impacted the challenge under investigation.