School of Engineering dean at White House

School of Engineering dean at White House

Dr. Tarek M. Sobh updates government officials on the National Academy of Engineering’s national Grand Challenges for Engineering Campaign and is tapped to make it bigger

The University of Bridgeport (UB) announced today that Dean of the School of Engineering and Senior Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research Dr. Tarek M. Sobh has been asked by the engineering deans and colleagues at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to propose an enhancement to extend its Grand Challenges of Engineering program, which identifies ways top experts can address critical issues of national and global concern.

Dr. Sobh was selected in early October when he and other top engineering deans visited the White House to brief officials on the current standing of the Grand Challenges for Engineering program. The national campaign was initiated by the NAE to identify innovative engineering solutions for high-concern issues in areas of health, alternative energy, sustainability, infrastructure, virtual reality, personalized learning, scientific discovery, and cyber security.

Dr. Sobh previously visited the White House and President Barack Obama regarding the Grand Challenges of Engineering campaign in March 2015.

At that time, UB was one of 122 U.S. engineering schools that banded together to present a letter of commitment to the President. Participating schools pledged to each introduce a Grand Challenges Scholars Program that better prepares undergraduate engineering students to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society today.

UB’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) was launched in the spring of 2016 with five accepted students, whose majors include Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science.

Undergraduate students accepted to UB’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program participate in externally-sponsored multidisciplinary research within the Grand Challenges areas, work at start-up companies housed at UB’s cutting-edge CTech IncUBator, study and work at international STEM programs with UB’s overseas partner universities, and complete a service management and engineering concentration to allow students to effectively apply their technical experiences to societal problems.

Dr. Sobh felt the program had greater potential to grow.

As the largest graduate engineering program in Connecticut and fastest-growing graduate biomedical engineering program in New England, he said that UB was “wholly equipped” to enhance the Grand Challenges Scholars Program by including graduate students into its special training track.

“When I met with NAE colleagues and the other engineering deans at the White House, I suggested that we allow exceptionally qualified master’s degree students to become certified as Grand Challenges Scholars, too,” Dr. Sobh said. “The idea was warmly received, and UB has been asked to develop a model for what that might look like.”

Dr. Sobh will present the graduate-level Grand Challenges Scholar program to the NAE and the other engineering deans by December, in preparation for formal discussion at next year’s GCSP conference at the White House.

If adopted, the proposed addition to the Grand Challenges Program “has the potential to have a tremendous impact on engineering at a national level,” he added.

To learn more about the University of Bridgeport’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program, visit

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,