LEAD participants showing their Driveway project at a poster session.


All participants are required to take two classes during their first academic year in Grand Challenges. These classes will count toward your elective requirements but will not be typical lecture classes.

Grand Challenges are not solved by sitting in lecture halls, so expect classroom instruction to take place beyond the barriers of classroom walls and to incorporate less conventional learning strategies. Both classes are held in Brittain Rec, where you will be surrounded by white board walls and to incorporate less conventional learning strategies.

If you live in Cloudman Residence Hall, you will need to sign up for the 9:30am-10:45am GC Class. If you choose to live in Howell Residence Hall, you will need to sign up for the 12:30pm-1:45pm GC Class.

PUBP 1142

 Teams and Collaboration

Fall Semester 

In the fall, Dr. Wynens, Director of Leadership Education and Development in the Division of Student Life, works with students to develop the interpersonal, team, and design thinking skills necessary for making progress against wicked problems. The process of collaboration requires that we become good at listening, arguing, analyzing, and persuading. Through simulations, collaborative assignments, team challenges, and constructive feedback, this class creates an environment where students learn how to succeed in multidisciplinary teams.

The assignments and activities in the class are designed to give students greater exposure to the types of problems and issues that constitute a “grand challenge.” Through faculty guest lectures, campus organizations, and innovative learning formats, the class gains exposure to some of the best minds in the country currently working on aspects of grand challenges. The class may even find itself in one of their labs or off-campus observing local examples of the challenges.

GT 1201

Exploring Grand Challenges

Spring Semester

The design skills taught in the fall semester serve as the building blocks for the spring semester class, which is coordinated by Dr. Davis, Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The course is comprised of a series of problems that are issued throughout the semester instead of a traditional lecture or lab. During the first six weeks of the semester, GC student teams (~ 6 people) focus on exploring and learning about their problem space. To this end, GC teams interview experts, go on field trips, and design innovative quick experiments to test key assumptions. The second six weeks take your knowledge and deepen it by having your team explore and test the validity and feasibility of your creative ideas. The final assignment of the class is not a traditional presentation or exam—it is a proposal.

Each project and group are completely unique and independent. Our hope is that the creativity and intelligence of the team will take you along a path that you could never have imagined at the beginning of the year. At the end of the semester, your team will create a pitch to receive funding to continue your ideas and explore possible solutions during your sophomore year.

*There are two sections available:

  • T-R 9:30am-10:45am (3-hour course) Residents of Cloudman will be required to sign up for this section.
  • T-R 12:00pm-1:15pm (3 credit hours) Residents of Howell will be required to sign up for this section.