Innovation transforms insight and technology into novel products, processes, and services that create new value for stakeholders, drive economic growth, and improve standards of living. Our vision at The University of Texas for innovation and entrepreneurship to transform the processes and services of higher education is supported by: 1) implementing the new university-wide, transcript-recognized certificate Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP); 2) developing a Grand Challenges-focused incubator for diverse students who will have faculty and industry mentors; 3) creating a scalable model of NAE GCSPs at other universities around the world with new online educational resources; 4) hosting interdisciplinary, inter-institutional GC design-a-thons; and 5) continuing to annually host a student start-up pitch competition at SXSW Interactive.

Throughout the program and course, GC Scholars research important real world problems while fostering their abilities to design innovative solutions. We structured our GCSP to leverage the strengths of the entrepreneurship ecology at UT and in Austin and embed them as part of the curriculum. Unique to our GCSP at UT, students from all majors are invited to engage in multi-semester/multi-year design-based projects from as early as freshman year. The GC Director and partnering Engineering Faculty designed a course for the GC and then they mentor the students throughout the rest of their program on ways to include a total of 18 credit hours towards their GC certificate.

This reflective paper includes descriptions of our GCSP since its inception in 2011, methods for assessment and support, and examples of entrepreneurship from our Scholars. We indicate ways that the GCSP develops globally competent engineers who are capable of being leaders in meeting the complex needs of the 21st century.


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