Shiley School of Engineering joins National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program


March 13, 2017

The University of Portland’s Shiley School of Engineering has been accepted into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program, a combined curricular and extra-curricular program with five components that are designed to prepare students to be the generation that solves the grand challenges facing society in this century, according to Sharon Jones, Shiley dean of engineering.

The Shiley School joins over 120 engineering schools across the country in committing to educate future engineers who are equipped to address some of the most critical issues facing society. Each of the schools has pledged to graduate a minimum of 20 students per year who have been specially prepared to lead the way in solving large-scale “Grand Challenges,” such as engineering better medicines, advancing health informatics, ensuring clean water, making solar energy cost-competitive, securing cyberspace, and advancing personalized learning tools to deliver better education to more individuals.

“Our students at the University of Portland are motivated by a desire to serve the public and promote the greater good,” said Jones. “The NAE Grand Challenge Scholars program provides our future engineers with opportunities to consider how, using research, technology, and entrepreneurship, they can take the lead in addressing issues we’re facing in the United States and around the world.”

At the Shiley School of Engineering, the coursework and projects emphasize teamwork, experimentation, and innovation integrated with theory, analysis, and design to prepare students to become technological leaders in the 21st century. 

“The NAE Grand Challenge program allows students to take advantage of some of the great resources at the university that support engineering students,” said Mark Kennedy, associate dean of engineering, “such as Study Abroad, E-scholars and diverse set of core elective courses.”

As part of the Grand Challenge Scholars program, Shiley School students will focus on the five components of the Challenge:

  • Hands-on Project OR Research Experience related to a Grand Challenge
  • Interdisciplinary Curriculum: A curriculum that complements engineering fundamentals with courses in other fields, preparing engineering students to work at the overlap with public policy, business, law, ethics, human behavior, risk, and the arts, as well as medicine and the sciences.
  • Entrepreneurship: Preparing students to translate invention to innovation; to develop market ventures that scale to global solutions in the public interest
  • Global Dimension: Developing the students’ global perspective necessary to address challenges that are inherently global as well as to lead innovation in a global economy
  • Service Learning: Developing and deepening students’ social consciousness and their motivation to bring their technical expertise to bear on societal problems through mentored experiential learning with real clients.

National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges
In 2008, the NAE identified 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century. The Grand Challenges are a call to action and serve as a focal point for society's attention to opportunities and challenges affecting our quality of life.

Nearly all address complex social issues that require innovative technology and a systems approach to solve but cannot be solved in a vacuum. They will also require engineers to shape public policy, transfer technical innovation to the market place, and to inform and be informed by social science and the humanities. These are challenges to “change the world,” and many of them are inherently global.

The 14 Grand Challenges include:

  • Make solar energy economical
  • Provide energy from fusion
  • Develop carbon sequestration methods
  • Manage the nitrogen cycle
  • Provide access to clean water
  • Restore and improve urban infrastructure
  • Advance health informatics
  • Engineer better medicines
  • Reverse-engineer the brain
  • Prevent nuclear terror
  • Secure cyberspace
  • Enhance virtual reality
  • Advance personalized learning
  • Engineer the tools of scientific discovery

For more information, contact the Shiley School of Engineering at 503-843-7292 or


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