NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program

2019 GCSP Workshop - Romania

The First-Ever GCSP Workshop in Europe
May 15-17, 2019
University Politehnica, Bucharest, Romania

As part of the effort for a global expansion of the NAE GCSP, a workshop was organized in Bucharest, Romania, on May 15-17, 2019, hosted by University Politehnica, Bucharest. This was the first ever GCSP workshop in Europe. The seed for the event was planted a year earlier. Newly elected NAE member Cleopatra Cabuz (NAE 2017), then VP at Honeywell, proposed that with 2018 being the centennial anniversary of the creation of modern Romania, it would have been timely to organize a special event to engage Romanian higher education in the Technology Challenges of the 21st Century. In partnership with the NAE Office for the GCSP, led by Dr. Ramakrishna, it was then decided to proceed with a GCSP workshop in Spring 2019. As a distinguished alumna of University Politehnica, Bucharest, the largest technical university in Romania, Cleo helped secure the support of Vice Rector, Dr. George Darie, and other Politehnica leaders, to host the GCSP workshop in May 2019. NAE President Mote enthusiastically supported the idea.

The objectives of the workshop were to

  1. inspire universities in Romania and across the region to establish Grand Challenges Scholars Programs,
  2. make connections between institutions exploring establishing new programs,
  3. support exchange and cooperation with US-based GCSPs,
  4. directly engage both regional industry and multinational corporations interested in STEM education and workforce to help clarify the value of Grand Challenges Scholars to industry, and
  5. create a mechanism for supporting educational transformation based on the GCSP vision.

The workshop attracted more than 120 participants from universities from various parts of Eastern Europe, including Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as from Turkey and Italy, and from several corporations including Honeywell, Cisco, Siemens, Fitbit and Romanian Utility Company Federation. Also attending were a number of US participants from USC, Louisiana Tech, Duke, Georgia Tech, ASU and the NAE. It was interesting that four of the first five universities (USC, Duke, ASU and LaTech) that implemented GCSP were all present at the workshop.

Underscoring the importance of the event, the workshop started with remarks by the US ambassador to Romania, Harry Klemm, and Dr. Darie, Rector of UPB. It was followed by   keynote address by Professor Yannis Yortsos, Dean at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and one of the three cofounders of GCSP. Panel discussions were led by presentations from Professor Katie Evans, GCSP committee chair, Dr. Ramakrishna, NAE GCSP Network Office, Professor Andrea Micangeli from Sapienza University of Rome, Oliver Nachevski, President of EWB International, Professor Ed Coyle from Georgia Tech, and from a panel of GCSP students and alums (from Duke, USC and Sapienza). In addition, there were presentations by representatives of the Romania America foundation and the Romania-US Fulbright Commission. The various presentations can be found here.

A most impactful part of the workshop was a nearly 90-minute working session led by Professor Evans, Chair of the GCSP committee, and by Dr. Ramakrishna from the NAE. Its goal was to disseminate best practices for developing a strong GCSP program. With teams from 17 universities participating, the success of the session was the highlight of the workshop. It clearly should be a standard feature of all GCSP workshops. Indeed, following the workshop, five universities, Istanbul Technical University, Chernivtsi National University, Transilvania University of Brasov, Politehnica University of Timisoara and "Angel Kanchev" University of Ruse requested mentors to help preparation of their proposals, while the host institution, UPB, has already submitted a GCSP proposal.

Agenda