Challenges accepted

Second-year students tackle engineering’s grand challenges in Sophomore NAE Challenge

NAE Sophomore Challenge Results

Second-year Ram Engineers spent their last week of summer devising solutions to the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE’s) Grand Challenges for the 21st Century. 

VCU Engineering’s second annual Sophomore NAE Challenge took place the week of Aug. 16-20. With guidance from graduate student mentors, sophomores worked to advance four of the NAE’s 14 game-changing goals for improving life on the planet.

The VCU Engineering dean and associate deans chose the first, second and third place winners.The grand prize went to Air Cobra, presented by Ishann Thakur, who received a cash prize and automatic acceptance into the da Vinci Pre-X program, which helps students pitch innovations to prospective investors. 

VCU Engineering faculty, staff and students selected the People’s Choice Award winner, choosing Eye Candy. 

Grand Prize

Project: AIR COBRA

Team: Trailblazer

Member(s): Ishaan Thakur

NAE Challenge Area: Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery


Second Place

Project: Cool 'n Clean

Team: Earth, Wind & Solar

Member(s): Lucas Diehl and Caleb Schwartz 

NAE Challenge Area: Make Solar Energy Economical


Third Place

Project: Hydrogen! Refueling the Future of Transportation

Team: H₂ 

Member(s): Aaron Howard, Lauren Ntungwe and Peter Nunez

NAE Challenge Area: Restore & Improve Urban Infrastructure


People’s Choice Award 

Project: Eye Candy 

Team: The BMEs

Member(s): Feranmi Akande and Katya Zimmet

NAE Challenge Area: Medicine Based Topics