New BAE Grand Challenge Scholars

Grace Thomas and Laura Gomez are the latest to be named Grand Challenge Scholars from the BAE department. The Grand Challenge Scholars Program ( through the NC State College of Engineering (COE) aims to prepare the future generation of engineers with ways to tackle the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 Grand Challenges that face the 21st Century. This program revolves around five key competencies: talent, multidisciplinary, entrepreneurship and viable business model, multicultural, and social consciousness competencies. 

Grace Thomas is from from Raleigh, NC, and applied for the program to meet with other scholars sharing her passion. As an avid sailor, boater, and someone who loves everything related to water, the Grand Challenge she is most interested in is being able to provide access to clean water. She sees this as an important, basic human rights issue both internationally and within our own country. Grace learned about the Grand Challenge Scholars Program through her E102 class. When she isn’t working on ways to provide clean water, she is participating in the Society of Women Engineers, learning sustainable farming techniques in Belize as part of an Alternative Service Break project, or she’s working on undergraduate research with Dr. Guertault and Dr. Fox. After graduation, she hopes to continue pursuing her passion by working in a field dedicated to improving access to water or improving the quality of existing water sources.

Laura Gomez was born in Colombia, South America, and raised in Asheboro, NC. Laura will also be focusing on providing access to clean water. Recognizing how crucial water is to all aspects of civilizations, people still struggle with access. Furthermore, as water quality and accessibility increases, so does the quality of life for families and social independence of women. She looks forward to growing professionally, culturally, and socially while having a mentor to gain personalized advice. On campus, Laura is also a Goodnight Scholar, member of the Women in Science and Engineering Village, Women and Minorities Engineering Program, and a member of NC State’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, where she is already working on a Guatemala water systems project. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she is considering graduate school or seeking employment with an international water organization. 

Both Grace and Laura are phenomenal students dedicated to improving the lives of people all throughout the world by helping to ensure access to clean water. The department is excited to have them representing BAE and even more excited to see where they go.