The National Academy of Engineering has put forward 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century. These are addressed by students at participating universities through a Grand Challenge Scholars Program. Each program is unique, approved by application to the NAE, and administered by faculty and staff at the participating institution.
There are obvious opportunities for libraries and librarians to be an active part of the GCSP. Students are required to develop a research project around one of the challenges. They may take courses designed with the Grand Challenges in mind, seek out opportunities to develop global perspectives, and participate in service learning projects. In all of these activities, the academic library can play an active role.
At our university, a steering committee of faculty and staff from the College of Engineering, the College of Arts & Sciences, the Office of Civic Engagement, Library & Information Technology, and the Career Development Center all collaborate to provide GCSP students with special educational opportunities. The Librarian for Engineering Resources serves on the advisory committees for specific scholars. Familiarity with the program facilitates the develop of library collections and resources that support research. A LibGuide dedicated to the GSCP highlights information resources. Going forward, the development of an interactive course management page or WordPress blog managed by the library has been proposed.
The librarian has also been an active advocate for the GSCP program of our institution, presenting and reporting on our activities at regional conferences and workshops, including the Northeast Regional Meeting of the ASEE. The NAE’s GSCP program creates opportunities for librarians to collaborate with faculty and administrators, to serve on university-wide committees, to work directly with student scholars, and to promote research into the solutions to these pressing engineering challenges.