The Grand Challenges Initiative is Chapman University’s groundbreaking new approach to training the next generation of leaders in science and engineering. The program provides foundational skills in critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and teamwork for every undergraduate student entering the Schmid College of Science and Technology and the Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler School of Engineering.

Starting with their first day on campus, students work in small teams to imagine innovative solutions to the most complex and pressing problems of our time. Student teams study challenges in fields ranging from cybersecurity to antibiotic resistance. Under the mentorship of our world-class faculty, they explore the nature of the challenge, learn sophisticated and interdisciplinary methods for problem solving, and pursue ideas with the power to transform.

Over the course of four semesters in the program, our students learn project management skills, how to work together effectively as a team, and how to communicate their knowledge. We are seeking partners from the community to propose challenges for student teams and to support motivated students who are excited about finding innovative solutions to the problems you pose.

How to Become a Community Partner

  • Provide a brief written description of the proposed project and access to any relevant background information.
  • Meet with the team and their faculty mentor once or twice per semester by video conference, or in person, to discuss the project.
  • Make a philanthropic investment in the Grand Challenges Initiative (per team) in support of resources for the program and project.

What Do We Offer?

  • A team of 4-6 students will spend three semesters working towards a solution for a problem that you propose. World-class faculty and postdoctoral fellows facilitate the team’s contributions.
  • Full access to the equipment available in the Grand Challenges Initiative Makerspace and in the new Keck Center for Science and Engineering in support of your project.
  • The opportunity to identify and begin training promising students for summer internships and employment after graduation. This includes invitations to two career networking events per year.
  • Regular written updates and an end-of-semester presentation of progress.
  • Invitations to Grand Challenges Initiative lectures and other special events.


Contact Gregory R. Goldsmith, Ph.D., Director, Grand Challenges Initiative,