Skip to main content

Program Requirements

The SCU School of Engineering joins 68 other universities in delivering this unique program for qualified SCU engineering students.

Students that gain admission into the program will work on curricular and co-curricular components to satisfy the program requirements. The Grand Challenge Scholars’ faculty work closely with the undergraduate students to ensure their success in the program.

Grand Challenge Scholars will complete coursework and/or experiential opportunities within the five components of the Grand Challenge Scholars Program (social consciousness, multicultural, viable business/entrepreneurship, multidisciplinary, and talent), as well as a GCSP portfolio. Please note that any single experience cannot be used to demonstrate multiple competencies in the GCSP, e.g. senior design capstone cannot be used to fulfill both Talent and Interdisciplinary competencies, though longer term meta experiences could be parsed and used to demonstrate multiple competencies. 


The goal for this requirement is ensuring that depth of understanding and exposure to at least one Grand Challenge Area is attained by each scholar. Therefore, all GCSP scholars will be required to participate in an approved research or project-based experience related to a Grand Challenge area. Research and projects can be individual or team based with a scope that is commensurate to the number of scholars involved. This project will have a sustained duration of one academic year or other similar significant time period, such as a full time summer project. An estimated total of greater than 150 hours is expected. 

Some examples of the experiences that may support student development of the Talent Competency include participation in formal undergraduate research programs, capstone design projects, or other significant research experiences such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) sponsored by NSF and the like. To be an approved project, the scholar must submit a description of the project including the scope, anticipated learning objectives, and a narrative of the broader impacts of the student’s participation in the project. 


Multicultural awareness is necessary for working effectively in an increasingly interdependent world. Participating in this competency area will deepen a student’s consciousness and motivation to bring technical knowledge to bear on global problems. This experience could be overseas or in an underserved domestic community. It may also be fulfilled through core curriculum as part of the Experiential Learning for Social Justice coursework. As a Jesuit University, SCU has a broad array of opportunities available to the students through our Global Engagement Office. A list of these opportunities include:

  • Study Abroad 
  • Global Fellows Internship 
  • Global Social Benefit Fellowship
  • Immersion experiences
  • Registered Student Organizations, including Engineers without Borders, Engineering World Health or any other RSO with a global or underserved community partnership

To ensure significant breadth and depth of experiences, credit for the Multicultural GC competency assumes a minimum of 6 weeks full-time experience or at least one quarter (10 weeks) of part-time experience.

Interdisciplinary Experience:

Bridging engineering to other disciplines is essential for solving the NAE Grand Challenges. SCU experiences, as part of its Jesuit liberal arts background, are designed to build connections amongst fundamental science, mathematics, and engineering, but also amongst different fields of engineering, the arts, humanities, and social sciences, among others. All SCU students spend at least ~25% of their credit hours on liberal arts coursework as part of our Core Curriculum and must complete a Pathway. Pathways are clusters of courses with a common theme that provide an opportunity to study that theme from a variety of disciplinary or methodological perspectives. The purpose of the Pathway is to perceive connections, complexities, and relationships among ideas and a student’s educational and life experiences.

All GCSP scholars will be required to fulfill the Interdisciplinary competency through completion of two of the following:

  • Successful completion of a Pathway, including passing coursework (3 approved courses) and successful submission and acceptance of the Pathway essay. Both chosen coursework and the Pathway essay must be explicitly connected not only to their Pathway theme, but also to their chosen GC theme, which will first be approved by the GCSP Director prior to formal submission of the essay to the University. Suggested Pathway themes include ‘Applied Ethics’, ‘Design Thinking’, ‘Food, Hunger, Poverty & Environment’, ‘Global Health’, ‘Leading People, Organizations & Social Change’, ‘Sustainability’, and ‘Values in Science & Technology’, though any Pathway can be completed with Director approval. 
  • Participation on a multi-disciplinary design project at the capstone level or other academic year-long sustained participation. Examples of this include our senior design capstone projects as well as significant design project competitions such as Solar Decathlon, Tiny House, and others that have been offered in the recent past.
  • Participation in design projects through Hubs or Labs on campus such as the Frugal Innovation Hub, the BioInnovation and Design lab, or the Robotics Systems Lab, or through student organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, Engineering World Health, etc. Design projects completed should ensure significant breadth and depth of experiences. Therefore, a minimum of 6 weeks full-time experience or at least one quarter (10 weeks) of part-time experience is required.
  • Successful participation in an explicitly interdisciplinary project-based course or other technical elective (minimum 4 units)
  • Double-major or minor in a non-engineering discipline

Social Consciousness:

The purpose of this competency area is to work with the people and organizations that are most strongly affected by the Grand Challenges now and in the future. In addition, a sense of caring and compassion for all people of all classes and abilities is an important attribute of someone who will be designing solutions that affect many different types of people. Each GCSP scholar will participate in a significant service oriented activity which requires the equivalent of at least 30 hours of community service work and which may potentially include:

  • Logged community service with reflection essay connecting service to their selected GC theme
  • Participating in an approved Global Engagement Office program including Engineers without Borders or an Immersion Experience
  • Completing their senior design capstone project or other research project with a substantial community engagement component
  • Participation in projects led by the Frugal Innovation Hub, the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship or other Hubs/Labs on campus with significant community engagement component
  • Participation in internships for global service organizations
  • Completion of coursework in social action which includes our Experiential Learning for Social Justice, Cultures & Ideas, and Ethics core curriculum areas
  • Successful completion of other community outreach experiences or coursework

Viable Business/ Entrepreneurship:

The combination of entrepreneurship and innovation is central to promoting growth and technological development in our society. Santa Clara University recognizes the value in engaging students in the process of translating innovation into practical solutions that make a difference in people’s lives through entrepreneurship as it has two related minors offered through the Leavey Business School and the General Engineering program within the School of Engineering. Furthermore, SCU has existing  Centers of Distinction including the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In addition, SCU is a long-time member of the Kern Engineering Entrepreneurial Network (KEEN) with faculty dedicated to the inclusion of entrepreneurial thinking in their offered coursework and design experiences. Finally, SCU often offers hackathons and pitch competitions which feature entrepreneurial themes throughout the academic year.

We will leverage these curricular and extracurricular programs to ensure students understand and display a basic level of achievement in this Grand Challenges competency area. Unless specifically stated otherwise below, significant breadth and depth of experiences for these activities is required to be a minimum of 10-hrs of focused work with a submitted summary reflection of learning gains from each activity and its connection to the scholar’s chosen GC theme. Students are required to complete one of the following:

  • Successfully complete a minimum of twelve units from the Entrepreneurship or Technical Innovation, Design Thinking, and Entrepreneurial Mindset minor offered through the Business or Engineering School or other mentor-approved coursework.
  • Work/Intern at a start-up or early stage venture that addresses a Grand Challenges Area, minimum of part-time work (5-10 hrs per week) for duration of a 10-week quarter.
  • Participate in competitions and/or entrepreneurship events within or outside of SCU.
  • Participate in SCU’s Innovation Fellows Program (UIF) leadership circle (via Stanford Epicenter) for one academic year.
  • Pursue any other project that displays a substantial level of commitment and initiative on the part of the student to investigate and understand entrepreneurial thinking.

Contact Us

Program Director: Jes Kuczenski
Administrative Assistant: Kelly Gonzalez

Main Office: Heafey 242

General Engineering
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053

Heafey-Bergin, Bldg. 202