NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Prize

On May 11, at USC Viterbi’s annual Undergraduate Awards event, select graduating students were recognized for their service, leadership and academic accomplishments.

Included in the ceremony were 24 undergraduate students who had earned the designation of National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars. Each of these individuals had met the criteria set forth by the organization to address previously established, NAE-designated issues, including sustainability, security, health and life enrichment. Awardees were tasked with addressing these issues through five components: a hands-on project or research experience, an interdisciplinary curriculum, entrepreneurship, a global approach and service learning.


Dean Yannis Yortsos and James Duan were flanked by the 2016 USC Viterbi Grand Challenges Scholars at a school-wide awards event during graduation week.

USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos has been instrumental in establishing the program nationally. Along with his colleagues at Duke University and Olin College, he co-hosted the first NAE Grand Challenges Summit in 2009, an event that launched the program for undergraduate engineering schools. A longstanding champion for the program, Dean Yortsos believes it represents the future of all undergraduate engineering education.

Dean Yortsos congratulated this year’s NAE Grand Challenge Scholars and was assisted in the awards presentation by USC Viterbi parent and NAE Grand Challenge Scholar supporter James Duan. Duan, who attended the event with his wife, Joanne, and colleague Gordon Zhang, awarded prize money to this year’s recipients. “I am pleased with the Dean’s vision for the school and was happy to reward these outstanding individuals for their tremendous efforts and achievements,” he said.

Complete group of USC Viterbi award winners

This year’s Grand Challenges Scholars were: Lindsay Barlow, Shira Bernard, David Butler, Kevin Cheberenchick, Alexander Coco, Gabby Colvert, Andrew Couillard, Edgar De Leon, Jesus Dillion, Alania George, Shikhar Hupta, Delipe Helman, Lauren Howe, Paige Kehoe, Elyse Kellerman, Connie Li, Hanna Luk, Holly Mitchell, Alexei Naumann, Juliana Porter, Tyler Pullen, Libanos Redda, Kathryn Rosenfeld and Jordan Seely.