Program Summary

Charles M. Vest NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering International Scholarships

The Charles M. Vest NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering International Scholarship Program offers an unprecedented opportunity for international graduate students to work and study at one of nine US universities performing leading research in one or more of the areas described in the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering.

The goals of the Vest Scholarships are to provide a platform to exchange ideas, share problem-solving skills and strengthen international  relationships in order to advance progress in some of the most critical global challenges in the twenty-first century.

The Q&A below summarizes this new scholarship program.

“Tremendous advances in quality of life have come from improved technology. If we focus our effort on the grand challenges of our age, we can hugely improve the future.”

–Larry Page, Google co-founder and member of the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering panel

What are the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering?

The NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering are 14 ways engineering can change the world for the better in the 21st century—from making solar energy economical to providing access to clean water. The challenges were proposed in 2008 by an international group of leading technological thinkers, from human genome pioneer J. Craig Venter to Google co-founder Larry Page, as a panel convened by the US National Academy of Engineering. Learn more at

What does the scholarship offer?

The Vest Scholarships offer applicants:

  • The opportunity to spend a year at a leading US engineering school pursuing research to address one of the 14 NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering
  • Living and travel expenses and tuition covered by the host institution for the 12-month duration of the scholarship
  • An opportunity to perform research in the laboratory of a leading faculty scholar
  • Access to relevant engineering classes and academic credit toward their graduate degrees (subject to the policies of the host institution and agreement between the host institution and student’s degree-granting institution)
  • There will be one Vest Scholarship offered at each of the 10 partner institutions

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must be currently enrolled and in good standing in an eligible graduate-level (master’s or doctoral) engineering or engineering-related program at the time of application and during the scholarship year.

Exception: PhD graduates from eligible schools who are interested in careers in engineering education may apply for a post-doctoral Vest Scholarship at Olin College in the Grand Challenge area #13, Advancing personalized learning. Olin will also accept applications from current post-docs at eligible schools.

Applications will be accepted from students at non-U.S. institutions that participated in the 2013 NAE/Royal Academy of Engineering/Chinese Academy of Engineering Global Grand Challenges Summit held in London. See a list of eligible institutions

The program intends to expand to additional institutions in future years.

Note to US students: Several United Kingdom universities offer scholarships for international students in the Grand Challenges for Engineering. More information is available at (click on the PDF titled “View Global Grand Challenges research opportunities available in the UK”).

How will scholarship winners be selected?

Applicants will be asked to submit a personal statement proposing a one-year research and study plan that addresses one of the 14 NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering. Winning statements will be those that present the most compelling and potentially impactful proposal, and that map best onto Grand Challenge activities at the participating institutions. Students’ academic aptitude and potential for success will also be an important part of the selection process. For more information, visit the Application page.

What is the timeline of the scholarship competition?

August 1, 2017: Application form opens for 2018-2019 scholarships

November 1, 2017: Applications due for 2018-2019 scholarships

February 15, 2018: Vest Scholarship winners contacted

Summer 2018: Vest Scholars begin a year of study at their US host institution

Scholarship Partners

Duke University Pratt School of Engineering
California Institute of Technology Engineering and Applied Science
Illinois Institute of Technology Armour College of Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Engineering
University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering
NC State University College of Engineering
Olin College of Engineering
University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering