Shiley School of Engineering is one of 122 schools nationwide to pledge support for solving engineering's “Grand Challenges”


March 18, 2015

University of Portland’s Shiley School of Engineering is one of 122 schools who signed a letter of commitment presented to President Barack Obama announcing a plan to educate a new generation of engineers expressly equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society in the 21st century.

These "Grand Challenges," identified through initiatives such as the White House Strategy for American Innovation, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering, and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, include complex yet critical goals such as engineering better medicines, making solar energy cost-competitive with coal, securing cyberspace, and advancing personalized learning tools to deliver better education to more individuals.

The 122 schools have pledged to graduate a minimum of 20 students per year who have specifically prepared to lead the way in solving such large-scale problems, with the goal of training more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the next decade.

Grand Challenge Engineers will be trained through special programs at each institution that integrate five educational elements: (1) a hands-on research or design project connected to the Grand Challenges; (2) real-world, interdisciplinary experiential learning with clients and mentors; (3) entrepreneurship and innovation experience; (4) global and cross-cultural perspectives; and (5) service-learning.

Shiley School of Engineering students have worked on projects related to these “Grand Challenges.” Projects include providing access to clean waterenhancing virtual reality, and engineering better medicines.

University of Portland engineering dean Sharon Jones’ letter to President Obama can be found here.


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5000 N. Willamette Blvd.,
Portland, Oregon 97203-5798