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Program Structure

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) consists of five components which provides the Grand Challenges Scholar with the expertise and skills necessary to address a Grand Challenge. Each Texas A&M Grand Challenges Scholar will develop a customized plan for achieving a specified level of engagement and competence in each of the five GCSP components, and for ensuring connectivity across these five components and a Grand Challenge problem.

The required depth of engagement for each component is defined in terms of equivalent credit hours:

    • Intensive: equivalent to 6+ credit hours or 2 courses
    • Engaged: equivalent to 3+ credit hours or 1 course
    • Exploratory: equivalent to 1+ credit hour

Research must be intensive, as well as one additional component. Two other components must be completed at the engaged level. The final component may be completed at the exploratory level.

Program Components

Below are the five components of the program with the expected engagement levels of each, including examples of the type of the activities or mechanisms that can be used to satisfy each component. 


  • Research - Intensive

    • Paper Publication (required) - must contain a separate section describing how the research can be used in solving one or more of the NAE grand challenges
  • Interdisciplinary

    • Intensive: 6+ credit hours of courses outside of engineering that closely relate to the scholar's grand challenge, completion of a minor in a foreign language, completion of a minor in a field that closely relates to the scholar's grand challenge
    • Engaged: research if working closely with another department or college, AggieE_Challenge if your team works closely with another department or college, 3+ credit hours of courses outside of engineering that closely relate to the scholar's grand challenge
    • Exploratory: Living in a living learning community unrelated to engineering, 1+ credit hours of courses outside of engineering that closely relate to the scholar's grand challenge
  • Entrepreneurship

    • Intensive: Completion of the Concept, Creation and Commercialization (C3) Certificate
    • Engaged: Entrepreneurship courses
    • Exploratory: Aggies Invent, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M University (TAMU) Hack
  • Global Perspective

    • Intensive: Completion of the International Engineering Certificate, 6+ credit hours taken abroad
    • Engaged: 3+ credit hours taken abroad, significant leadership position in Engineers without Borders
    • Exploratory: 1+ credit hours taken abroad, significant participation in Engineers without Borders
  • Service Learning

    • Intensive: Engagement in a service organization or project equivalent to 6+ credit hours
    • Engaged: Peer teaching, significant leadership position organizations like Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), Engineers Serving the Community (ESC) or the Big Event
    • Exploratory: Significant participation in organizations like the ones mentioned above 

Texas A&M has a number of existing programs that address one or more of the five Grand Challenges components and which the Grand Challenges Scholars can utilize in their customized GCSP plan.

It is possible, and indeed desirable, for a Grand Challenges Scholar's activities to fulfill multiple components. For example, the thesis research on the Grand Challenge problem may naturally involve interdisciplinary curriculum or global dimension, and, depending on the project, could also involve entrepreneurship or service learning.

In cases where a component is satisfied with activities other than traditional coursework, an assessment of the level of engagement will be done by the GCSP Director; Grand Challenges Scholars will work with their Grand Challenges Faculty Mentor and/or the GCSP Director to determine the level of engagement. 

Maintaining Active Status

To maintain active status, you must:

  • Be a student in good standing with the university, maintain an overall GPA of at least 3.0. 
  • Maintain continuous progress in five areas.
  • Participate in GCSP meetings and activities.
  • Meet with GCSP Director every semester.
  • Submit an annual report describing their GCSP activities for the past year and their plans for completing all GCSP requirements.
  • By graduation, scholars must submit a completed GCSP portfolio and present it at the final meeting of the semester.