What is a Grand Challenge?
The Grand Challenge program is part of ASDL’s core academic and research methods training. First-year graduate students are divided into teams and each team is given a broad, open-ended problem to address related to topics that are current and relevant to the aerospace industry. Students are involved in both a vehicle and a system of systems project. To complete these challenges, students must become fluent in their problem area, learn what techniques and methods are available to assist them in solving their problem, determine the data and scope of modeling that is required, develop any necessary modeling and simulation, perform data analysis, and create a dynamic and flexible visualization environment to present results and support analysis, trade-offs, and decision making. From these Grand Challenges, students learn many needed skills that are not typically taught in a classroom, such as good research practices, how to address a new problem are with which one may be unfamiliar, how to manage time on a large-scale research project, how to effectively communicate results, and many others.
The projects are conducted over the course of two academic semesters, concluding with a final presentation in the April/May timeframe to ASDL’s External Advisory Board (EAB) and other sponsors and stakeholders. This board consists of chief scientists, managers, and directors of related government organizations and aerospace industry companies.