The Grand Challenges Scholars Program Network has a New Home at USC!

The GCSP Network was previously overseen by the National Academy of Engineering in Washington D.C. during its early days, before being entrusted to Arizona State University (ASU) in 2020 as a community-led network with support from its member universities. While housed at ASU under the direction of Amy Trowbridge, an associate professor in the Ira A Fulton School of Engineering, the GCSP Network saw great expansion domestically and extended its reach internationally. Yannis Yortsos, Dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and one of the founders of GCSP, says goals of the next phase of the GCSP Network include continuing expansion; strengthening connections amongst universities; implementing new network wide signature events; facilitating the sharing of GCSP program best practices; enhanced tracking of alumni; and further developing the GCSP Network website to serve as a portal for student and program engagement. The GCSP Network’s move to USC comes at a time where Yortsos ponders the necessity of modifying the 14 Grand Challenges originally presented by the NAE in 2008 to make them more relevant to today’s world. Yortsos and other GCSP leaders believe that the program should more explicitly incorporate ethics into its pedagogy.

As part of the move, USC Viterbi will create a stand-alone 501c3 nonprofit organization, , that would operate the GCSP network. Doing so, Yortsos said, will make it easier for the GCSP network to receive funding from the government and raise money from donors. Meanwhile, USC Viterbi will support the network, as well as the transition to an independent coordinating entity, seeded with funding from the Gordon Prize. “It's an exciting time now that we have some funds available to create something that brings all this together and helps us create a self-sustaining entity that can grow even further,” Yortsos said. “We want to create the 2.0 version of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program.”

The move of the GCSP Network has strong support within the engineering education community and beyond. Rick Miller, president emeritus at Olin College, GCPS co-founder and co-recipient of the Gordon Prize, has been one of the key players in the history of GCSP to offer his confidence. “With USC and Dean Yortsos in the lead, the potential is enormous to expand the global participation in the GCSP by an order of magnitude,” said Miller. “The Grand Challenges Scholars Program could become the globally dominant educational program in the preparation of the next generation of youth committed to sustainability, security, health, and human flourishing in all disciplines.”

The strengthening of the GCSP Network in this new phase of its existence also features the addition Kelly Goulis, USC Viterbi’s senior associate dean for admission and student engagement, who will serve as interim chair of the Grand Challenges Scholars Network. Known as a student-centered innovator, Goulis spoke of her enthusiasm: “the opportunity to really have a seat at the table and create something that's sustaining for generations to come is, I think, really exciting.”

Interim Executive Committee

Kelly Goulis – Chair, Senior Associate Dean, USC
Andrew Mang – Director of Communications, Duke 2012 GCSP alumnus
Zhenya Zastavker – Professor of Physics and Education, Olin
Katie Evans – Dean, College of Science and Engineering, Houston Christian University
Keith Buffinton – Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Bucknell University
Amy Trowbridge – Associate Teaching Professor & co-Director, Grand Challenges Scholars Program, Arizona State University