Don Weinkauf, dean of the St. Thomas School of Engineering, was one of 40 engineering deans from across the U.S. who met at the White House Tuesday to promote engineering education tied to the National Academy of Engineers' Grand Challenges. The deans met with John Holdren, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as, Tom Kalil, OSTP deputy director of technology and innovation.
NAE Grand Challenges include complex and critical goals such as engineering better medicines, making solar energy cost-competitive with coal, securing cyberspace and advancing personalized learning tools to deliver better education to more individuals.
In a letter of commitment to President Barack Obama, more than 120 U.S. engineering schools announced plans to educate a new generation of engineers expressly equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society in the 21st century. The engineering deans stated a goal of training more than 20,000 formally recognized Grand Challenge Engineers over the next decade.
Grand Challenge Scholars must demonstrate significant experience in five elements: hands-on research or design project connected to the Grand Challenges, real-world interdisciplinary experiential learning with clients and mentors, entrepreneurship and innovation experience, global and cross-cultural perspectives, and service-learning.
“The Grand Challenge Scholars program is very similar to what we have been committed to all along as we have built the School of Engineering," said Weinkauf. “Over the next few months I will be working with the faculty, other departments and colleges, as well as other universities in the region to formalize our scholars program at St. Thomas.”
Read more about the 14 Grand Challenges developed by the NAE.