Grand Challenges Scholars

The University of Delaware joined former President Barack Obama in affirming a commitment to tackle the grand challenges of our day. And that's what Grand Challenges Scholars sets out to do: equip the next generation of engineers to take on today's most pressing issues, such as:


  • Making solar energy cost-competitive with coal
  • Creating better medicines
  • Providing clean water for the nearly 1 billion people who lack it
  • Ending extreme poverty and hunger
  • Securing cyberspace
  • Advancing personalized learning tools to deliver widespread education


Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have faith in people, that they're basically good and smart—and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.

- Steve Jobs
Students in the Statics (MEEG210) mechanical engineering course are partnering with Newark’s "Wooden Wheels" bike shop to design and manufacture wooden frame bikes. The 160 students in the course, working in teams of four, consulted with the owners of Wooden Wheels on their bike frame designs and then utilized the Design Studio in Spencer Lab to make the frames. This gave them a real-world opportunity to apply their newly acquired knowledge in Statics, a branch of mechanics.

How to Apply


The fall 2024 application is now open. Incoming freshmen admitted to an engineering major at UD can apply by completing the program’s required essay on their student portal, My Blue Hen Home. Students may apply to multiple programs, but will only be admitted to one.

The priority deadline for Scholars & Fellows applications is March 15.

Program Highlights

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program is designed to provide UD engineering students like you with the opportunity to engage in the most pressing societal concerns of our time like healthcare, security, sustainability and quality of life.

A Four-Year Experience


As a UD Grand Challenges Scholar you will engage in coursework and experiential opportunities that integrate five core educational components: 

  • Element 1: Hands-on project or research experience
  • Element 2: Interdisciplinary Curriculum
  • Element 3: Entrepreneurship
  • Element 4: Global Dimension
  • Element 5: Service Learning

Specialized Coursework


You will have the opportunity to participate in entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary courses, such as:

  • ANTH 382 - Anthropology and Business
  • CISC 356 - Intellectual Property in the Digital Age
  • ECON 350 - Economics of Entrepreneurship
  • ENTR/BUAD 352 - Business Launchpad: Turning Ideas into Successful Companies
  • LEAD 300 - Leadership, Creativity and Innovation


Rebecca Clements

Biomedical Engineering, 2021

Preferred pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Learn More

Tori Reiner

Biomedical Engineering, 2022

Preferred pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Learn More

Tori Reiner and Alex Newkirk are Class of 2022 graduates from the College of Engineering who are "Grand Challenges Scholars Program" (GCSP) participants. The Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) "provides a developmental framework for [students] to focus on academics and extracurricular activities organized around the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges [such as] Healthcare, Security, Sustainability and Quality of Life."

Alex Newkirk

Mechanical Engineering, 2022

Preferred pronouns: He/Him/His

Learn More


The Grand Challenges Scholars Program is administered by UD’s College of Engineering. Here, world-class faculty, state-of-the-art facilities and well-established internships provide the tools and experiences of an unparalleled education. Cross-disciplinary training programs, collaborative research opportunities and problem-based scholarship ensure graduates are highly skilled, well trained and focused on making the world a better place for generations to come.

College of Engineering

Frequently Asked Questions

Grand Challenges is open to incoming freshmen admitted to any College of Engineering major.

Admitted students can access the application essay prompts through their student portal, My Blue Hen Home. Students may apply to multiple Scholars and Fellows programs, but will only be admitted to one.

The priority deadline for Scholars & Fellows applications is March 15, but students who apply after the priority deadline will be considered on a space-available basis.