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About The Grand Challenge Scholars Program

The vision for the University of Houston Grand Challenge Scholars Program (UH-GCSP) is to leverage existing university and college-wide efforts to a diverse group of highly motivated students by providing an in-depth experience in technical work through research and multidisciplinary projects while engaging in entrepreneurial, global, and service-learning opportunities.

As part of a 2-to-3-year cohort experience, students will be mentored by faculty and peers as they progress through their engineering studies and gain a broader understanding of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges as they relate to other disciplines and society. Students will be required to take on leadership roles, seek out new opportunities, participate in peer networking (community-building), and receive and address feedback on their progress. UH-GCSP Scholars will be pushed to think and act as and beyond an engineer.

Students will also have the opportunity to work closely with one of the Cullen College’s esteemed NAE faculty members in one of the Grand Challenge areas mentioned below:

About The Grand Challenge Scholars Program
National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges

• Provide access to clean drinking water
• Engineer better medicines
• Reverse-engineer the brain
• Advance health informatics


• Provide energy from fusion
• Develop carbon sequestration methods
• Restore and improve urban infrastructure
• Manage the nitrogen cycle
• Make solar energy economical


• Prevent nuclear terror
• Secure cyberspace

Joy of Living
Joy of Living

• Enhance virtual reality
• Advance personalized learning
• Engineer the tools of scientific discovery

Program Benefits

There are many benefits to joining the UH-GCSP, including but not limited to:

  • Gaining a better understanding of game-changing engineering concepts
  • Receiving a letter of achievement upon completion of the program and special recognition at the Cullen College’s Commencement Ceremony
  • Recognition from the National Academy of Engineering President
  • Access to unique scholarships limited specifically to UH-GCSP scholars
  • Numerous networking opportunities with the option to attend national GCSP conferences
  • Mentorship from the esteemed UH Cullen College NAE faculty
  • Being a part of a cohort of like-minded individuals who all want to make the world a better place
Program Benefits


Program Requirements

Once students are accepted into the program, students will work to complete a comprehensive portfolio, which will be formally presented at a pre-approved forum. The portfolio requirements include:

  • Formal research or professional experience: a project or research based off one of the NAE Grand Challenges outlined above
  • Multidisciplinary Curriculum: completion of two or more courses outside of engineering that relate to the student’s chosen NAE Grand Challenge theme
  • Business Presence and Entrepreneurship: evidence of viable business entrepreneurship competency either by participation in an approved program such as Red Labs or EPIE, or through completion of a course, minor, or certificate in entrepreneurship, or equivalent accelerator program
  • Multicultural Reach: active membership in a global professional or student organization that relates to the chosen research area, or alternately this requirement can be met through study abroad or leadership in an international project
  • Social Consciousness: clearly demonstrated social consciousness through participation and/or leadership in community service projects or outreach events. This requirement can also be achieved through mentorship roles such as teaching assistants, peer mentors or student ambassadors, or through completion of a service-learning course.

Please find a list of pre-approved activates for competency completion here.

To retain active status in the program, students must:

  • Remain an engineering student in good standing with the university
  • Complete the UH-GCSP Scholar Semester Survey at the end of the fall and spring semesters to track progress and future plans for completing necessary competencies (progress report)
  • Meet at least one time per semester with their UH-GCSP Mentor
  • Meet at least one time per semester with their UH-GCSP Peer Mentor
  • Attend the UH-GCSP Welcome Back meeting (beginning of semester) and UH Grand Challenge Summit (end of semester) during the Fall and Spring semesters
Start Your Application

Apply Now


Dan Burleson, Ph.D.
Co-Director, University of Houston Grand Challenge Scholars Program
W228 Engineering Building 2
713-743-0461 | dwburleson [at] (dwburleson[at]uh[dot]edu)

Alexandra Landon
Co-Director, University of Houston Grand Challenge Scholars Program
E316 Engineering Building 2
713-743-8584 | amlando2 [at] (amlando2[at]central[dot]uh[dot]edu)