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Four Louisiana Tech Grand Challenge Scholars set to graduate

The National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program at Louisiana Tech University will add four more graduates to its prestigious ranks Saturday at Louisiana Tech’s 2013 spring commencement.

Kendall Belcher, a civil engineering major from Shreveport; Jake Eppehimer, a mechanical engineering major from Mandeville; Ryan Land, an electrical engineering major from Alexandria; and Nicole Roberts, a mechanical engineering major from Marshall, Texas, will join a distinguished group of graduates from one of only 12 Grand Challenge Scholars Programs in the United States.

Louisiana Tech's 2013 GCSP graduates - From L to R: Kendall Belcher, Jake Eppehimer, Ryan Land, and Nicole Roberts.

Louisiana Tech’s 2013 GCSP graduates – From L to R: Kendall Belcher, Jake Eppehimer, Ryan Land, and Nicole Roberts.

The Grand Challenge Scholars Program, started in 2009, is an effort by the National Academy of Engineering to better prepare engineering graduates to solve the complex issues facing our world in the 21st century.  The program also provides students with enhanced leadership and interpersonal skills.

Louisiana Tech’s 2013 Grand Challenge Scholars Program graduates excelled not only in the classroom, but also in their activities away from the campus with experiences like interning for Senator Mary Landrieu in Washington, D.C. and establishing an “Engineers Without Borders” chapter at Louisiana Tech, which is already working to address critical water issues in a small village in the Philippines.

The work that takes place beyond the campus is an essential component of the Grand Challenge Scholars Program.  It requires students to go beyond the regular curriculum by combining engineering and science courses with activities outside of the classroom that help them better understand the broader social, cultural, and ethical implications of their technology through a variety of research and entrepreneurship experiences, global exposure and service learning.

Following graduation, Land will begin work at Texas Instruments in Dallas.  Eppehimer has been accepted into Chrysler’s CIE Intern Program, where he’ll pursue a Black Belt in Design for Six Sigma and a graduate degree from Purdue University.  Belcher will be pursuing a Ph.D. in structural engineering at Oklahoma State University and Roberts is heading to work for British Petroleum (BP) in Houston, Texas.

The Louisiana Tech Grand Challenge Scholars Program is led by Dr. Jenna Carpenter, associate dean of administration and strategic initiatives for the College of Engineering and Science, with assistance from steering committee members Dr. Brad Cicciarelli, lecturer in chemical and mechanical engineering; Dr. Katie Evans, associate professor of mathematics; Dr. Leland Weiss, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and Dr. Marisa Orr, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. 

“We are so pleased with the success of Louisiana Tech’s Grand Challenge Scholars,” said Carpenter.  “The program provides them with broader skill sets and motivates them to reach for even higher accomplishments that distinguish them as some of the top engineering and science graduates in the nation.”

Carpenter also serves as the chair of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program’s national steering committee.

For more information about the Louisiana Tech Grand Challenge Scholars Program, including how to join, visit http://www.latech.edu/coes/gcscholars.shtml.

Written by Catherine Fraser – cfraser@latech.edu