Rice University joins national engineering education initiative

David Ruth

Jade Boyd

Rice University joins national engineering education initiative

White House announces ‘Grand Challenges’ engineering education program

HOUSTON — (March 23, 2015) — Rice University’s George R. Brown School of Engineering is one of more than 120 U.S. engineering schools leading a transformative movement in engineering education announced today at the White House.

Grand Challenges EngineeringIn a letter presented to President Barack Obama, Rice’s engineering school and its peers committed to establish unique educational programs designed to prepare undergraduates to solve “Grand Challenges,” complex yet achievable accomplishments that improve national and international health, security, sustainability and quality of life in the 21st century. Together, the schools plan to graduate more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the coming decade.

“The programs and activities of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL) are perfectly aligned with the goals of this initiative,” said Edwin “Ned” Thomas, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Rice’s Brown School of Engineering. “There are five components that go into educating a Grand Challenge Engineer: hands-on design or research, real-world experiential learning, entrepreneurship and innovation, and service learning. Most of these are integrated into RCEL’s Leadership Certificate Program, and with the added cross-cultural perspectives that many of our students get through Rice’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, every aspect required to be a Grand Challenge Engineer has been covered.”

Thomas has estimated that Rice will graduate 20 Grand Challenge Engineers per year, a considerable number for a school its size.

RCEL Executive Director Kazimir Karwowski said, “RCEL used the National Academy of Engineering’s ‘Engineer of 2020’ report as a template to craft a leadership certificate program that is dedicated to educating leaders with the skills necessary to help solve the grand challenges in engineering.”


For details about the initiative, see the National Academy of Engineering’s press release, “U.S. Engineering Schools to Educate 20,000 Students to Meet Grand Challenges,” online at www.nae.edu.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,888 undergraduates and 2,610 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just over 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is highly ranked for best quality of life by the Princeton Review and for best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go here.


About Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd is science editor and associate director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.