Ligler-Wagoner Challenge for The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering

What is the Challenge?

FOE ChallengeLaunched in 2021, the Ligler-Wagoner Challenge for The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering (FOE) is the latest opportunity to support the program and its alumni network. Spearheaded by Frances and George Ligler and Robert and Robyn Wagoner, this challenge will raise the profile of FOE and ensure its longevity for future generations through a solid foundation of unrestricted support.

The goal of the challenge is to raise $200,000 for FOE by December 31, 2024. Each dollar raised will be generously matched 1:1 by the Liglers and Wagoners to double the proceeds to enhance FOE innovation for past, current, and future participants.

Through your support, FOE will be able to: 

  • Enable invitees to attend, regardless of their funding situation;
  • Expand networking opportunities for current and former FOE participants;
  • Enhance the cross-disciplinary collaboration that has made it such an effective and esteemed program for the past 28 years; and more.

Who can participate?

This challenge can be supported by anyone – individuals, corporations/foundations, and especially our FOE alumni who have experienced the program first-hand. All donations and pledges to FOE qualify for the match.

Hear from recent challenge donors:

The ability to network with the brightest engineers and scientists from around the country was an invaluable part of my FOE experience. The exposure I received from attending in 2015 on what it means to do meaningful research was eye-opening, and as a result, I shifted my research to address global problems from a wider lens which has paid off for my students and me. As a monthly-recurring donor to FOE, I contribute not only as a token of appreciation for its impact on my career but also to help support future attendees.Hussam Mahmoud, US FOE '15

FOE provided a distinctive forum to engage with trailblazers and emerging leaders in engineering from across the US. The diversity of thought, backgrounds, and scientific challenges was refreshing and inspiring, which enhanced my own research program. My network of collaborators and colleagues was also greatly enriched by my FOE experience. I donated to FOE with the hope that I could inspire future FOE participants just as I was.LaShanda Teresa James Korley, US FOE ‘12

The FOE program is quite different from most conferences, where participants tend to segregate into the usual clusters of expertise. By mixing talented people from various backgrounds together and exposing them to cutting-edge research, FOE spurs creativity, friendships, and new collaborations for years to come. My own career trajectory and work—around 3D printed semiconducting circuits—originated directly from the US FOE meeting I attended in 2011. It was an easy decision for me to contribute back to the program, given the impact it has had on me.Michael McAlpine, US FOE ‘11

Why should you get involved?

For more than 25 years—thanks to the support of our program sponsors and donors—The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering has sustained and enhanced innovation by identifying highly accomplished early-career engineers from academia, industry, and government and bringing them together to discuss leading-edge research and innovation across widely disparate disciplines. 

Attending was a wonderful, eye-opening experience – besides being a lot of fun! FOE is the most meaningful cross-disciplinary program that we have seen for young engineers. - Robert (NAE '95) and Robyn Wagoner

FOE ChallengeRecent innovations from alumni include:

  • Ali Mostafavi analyzing visitation patterns to essential establishments like pharmacies, religious centers, and grocery stores to assess the recovery of communities after natural disasters in near real-time. 
  • Renata Pasqualini engineering an inhalable COVID-19 vaccine that would be easier to administer and more accessible than a jab.  
  • Jenna Jambeck studying types of litter cleanup and location to extrapolate how pollution can be prevented in the first place. 
  • George Pappas engineering an algorithm to ensure the fruitful cooperation of information-gathering robot teams in complex, unpredictable environments such as mapping or search-and-rescue.

You make these and other The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering innovations possible.  

From travel support so invitees are able to attend—regardless of their funding situation—to seed funding that can be leveraged to raise additional funds for important new interdisciplinary research and projects, your support makes a difference

The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Program has been on the leading edge of promoting interdisciplinary engineering across engineering work sectors. We see the future of engineering as increasingly interdisciplinary and the FOE Program as supporting if not accelerating this trend. - Frances and George Ligler (NAE '05 and '17)

Engineering collaboration facilitated by The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering is critical to solving some of the world’s most difficult problems. Your gift  ensures that collaboration continues for future generations of engineering leaders. Make a gift to support FOE today.

How do you get involved?

A tax-deductible donation of any size to FOE will be matched thanks to the Ligler-Wagoner Challenge for The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering. Explore the different giving options available to determine what works best for you. 

If you have any questions about how to make a pledge or gift—or if your preferred method of contributing isn’t listed below—please contact Radka Nebesky, Director of Development or Stephanie Halperin, Associate Director of Development.


Online gifts are the most immediate way to support The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering. To give online, you can use our secure online donation form and follow the instructions provided. You have the ability to make your gift as a one-time payment, or as a convenient monthly recurring gift. Recurring donations can be paused, adjusted, or canceled at any time and they are predominantly paperless. A cumulative tax receipt will be issued to you annually and your provided card will be charged on the 15th of each month.

If you would like to pause, adjust, or cancel an active recurring gift, please email

FOE ChallengeMail

Our printable donation form offers an easy way to mail your contribution. Checks made payable to "Frontiers of Engineering" should be mailed to our secure offsite processing center at:

National Academy of Engineering
Office of Development
PO Box 936138
Atlanta, GA 31193-6135

Please note “Frontiers of Engineering” in your check’s memo line. 


To make your gift via telephone, please call the Office of Development at 202.334.2431 and be ready to provide the information requested on the donation form.

Donor-Advised Funds (DAF)

The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering welcomes your gifts through Donor-Advised Funds (DAF). When recommending a gift, please make sure your name and Frontiers of Engineering are located on the check or supporting documentation for proper attribution. 

All DAF grant recommendations should be mailed to our secure offsite processing center at:

National Academy of Engineering
Office of Development
PO Box 936138
Atlanta, GA 31193-6135

We encourage you to speak with your tax advisor regarding any questions you have about your DAF.

Corporate Support

Corporate donations facilitated by FOE alumni also qualify for the match of the Ligler-Wagoner Challenge for The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering. If you would like to learn more about facilitating a gift from your current employer to support FOE, please contact either Stephanie Halperin, Associate Director of Development or Radka Nebesky, Director of Development.

Stock Gifts

A gift of long-term appreciated stock (held for more than one year) allows you to avoid capital gains tax. When itemizing your deductions, you can deduct the fair market value of the stock. If you choose this option, please submit a completed stock gift form and contact us at 202.334.2431 so that we can accurately credit your contribution.

Planned Gifts

Your planned gift to The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering, often in the form of a simple bequest, represents your current commitment to the program’s long-term future. We encourage you to explore our planned giving site today.