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College of Engineering Announced As Part Of National Engineering Education

by Stefanie Tomlinson

Penn State’s College of Engineering is among more than 120 U.S. engineering schools leading a transformative movement in engineering education announced at the White House yesterday.

In a letter presented to President Barack Obama, Penn State and peer institutions committed to establish special educational programs designed to prepare undergraduates to solve “Grand Challenges” — complex yet achievable goals to improve national and international health, security, sustainability and quality of life in the 21st century.

Together, the schools plan to graduate more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the next decade.

Penn State’s College of Engineering has committed to graduate at least 40 undergraduates and 10 graduate students as Grand Challenge Scholars by 2019.

“It is so critically important to prepare engineers who are trained to address global challenges of the 21st century through interdisciplinary and transnational teamwork,” Engineering Dean Arm Elnashai said. “Our program will allow us to formally recognize engineering students who have made the commitment to become Grand Challenges Scholars and to celebrate the accomplishments from their global, service learning partnerships.”

Each of these students will engage in projects with partners outside of the U.S. that require them to develop innovative solutions to real problems that their partners are encountering in Africa, South America, the Far East and the Caribbean.

In addition to these transformative project experiences, students will take courses that address cross-cultural communication, team skills, leadership, innovation and creativity.

In order to be recognized as a Grand Challenge Scholar, students will be required to submit a portfolio demonstrating how they have achieved each of the five elements of the program: a project related to a Grand Challenge theme, interdisciplinary team work, entrepreneurship, global engagement and service learning.

“This is an exciting time to be an engineer – to be poised to address the pressing problems facing the world, to collaborate across cultural and international boundaries to find solutions,” Director of Engineering Leadership Development Mike Erdman said. “This program encourages and recognizes the students who are stepping up to these challenges, and Penn State is proud to be a leader in these efforts.”

For details about the initiative please see the National Academy of Engineering release, “U.S. Engineering Schools to Educate 20,000 Students to Meet Grand Challenges,” online at

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