Skip to main content

News & events

Vest Scholarships Program Announced; UW One of Eight Participating U.S. Universities

In 2010, UW Engineering partnered with the National Academy of Engineering to host the Seattle Grand Challenges Summit, with a focus on Engineering Better Medicines and Engineering the Tools of Scientific Discovery. Today we are pleased to participate in the Vest Scholarship Program to advance graduate-level research and collaboration addressing the Grand Challenges.

NAE press release, March 13, 2013

Lorin Hancock
Media Relations Officer
(202) 334-2843,

International Scholarship Focused on Global Grand Challenges Announced

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Eight universities in the United States announced today the establishment of Vest Scholarships at their institutions. The announcement was made at the inaugural Global Grand Challenges Summit (GGCS) in London. The new scholarship program, named after outgoing National Academy of Engineering (NAE) President Charles M. Vest, will foster international collaborations among graduate students whose studies are focused on tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges. The scholarship has been endorsed by both the NAE and the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering.

NAE Grand Challenges logoThe participating universities are all conducting leading research toward addressing the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering™, 14 "game-changing" goals with the potential to dramatically improve life in the 21st century, identified by a blue-ribbon committee of leading technological thinkers and doers. The challenges are also the inspiration for the GGCS.

"The NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering address global issues that transcend national boundaries," said Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. "They are timely, inspirational, and interdisciplinary. Their solutions are also within reach in this time of exponential technology gains. The Vest Scholarships will provide the glue that will enable the engagement of the international engineering and scientific communities in pursuits that will benefit all of humanity."

The NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering are already being incorporated into education at all levels—including an undergraduate Grand Challenges Scholars Program being implemented at several colleges and universities across the United States—and Vest has been an influential leader in raising the visibility of these ideals.

"All of the sponsoring schools were unanimous in naming the scholarships for Dr. Vest," said Tom Katsouleas, dean of engineering at Duke University. "His leadership and championing of the Grand Challenges, and the role of the engineering profession, has been inspirational."

In the first year, students from schools attending the Global Grand Challenges Summit will be eligible to apply for the scholarships. In later years, the program will be expanded to additional schools.

"This is like a reverse Rhodes Scholarship," said Katsouleas. "It gives select international graduate students the opportunity to pursue potentially world-changing ideas at top U.S. universities."

Participating schools are Duke University, Cal Tech, Olin College, University of Southern California, University of Washington, Illinois Institute of Technology, MIT, and North Carolina State University. Students who are chosen will receive an expense-paid year to pursue research opportunities related to the 14 NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering at one of those institutions.

Additional details about the Vest Scholarships can be found at

Founded in 1964, the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.