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Grand Challenge Scholars program graduates six new Scholars

Six Louisiana Tech engineering students have completed the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars program (NAE GCSP) in the Spring Quarter 2018. This class is the largest single group of Grand Challenge Scholars from Louisiana Tech to date.

GCSP Scholars are (from left) Brian Elkins, Civil Engineering; Steven Pirvu, Biomedical Engineering; Jessica Supple, Chemical Engineering; Johnny Negrete, Mechanical Engineering; and Charles “Anthony” Ellis, Biomedical Engineering; and Haley Dishman, Mechanical Engineering (not pictured).

Haley Dishman (mechanical engineering), Brian Elkins (civil engineering), Charles Anthony Ellis (biomedical engineering), Johnny Negrete (mechanical engineering), Steven Pirvu (biomedical engineering) and Jessica Supple (chemical engineering) presented their research at the Grand Challenge Scholars Showcase May 7.

The NAE GCSP is an interdisciplinary, co-curricular program designed to better prepare engineering graduates to solve real-world problems and enhance their leadership and interpersonal skills by focusing on one of fourteen problem areas. This year’s graduates have completed hands-on research to tackle areas within the health and sustainability Grand Challenge Focus Areas, working to make solar energy economical, provide access to clean water, reverse engineer the brain, engineer the tools of scientific discovery, engineer better medicines and develop carbon sequestration methods.

“The efforts of these students have been outstanding,” Dr. Leland Weiss, interim director for civil engineering, construction engineering and mechanical engineering and faculty advisor for the Louisiana Tech GSCP, said. “They have contributed to cutting-edge research, high levels of service around the world and explored many of the engineering challenges that face the 21stCentury.”

Each class of Grand Challenge Scholars must not only research a global problem, but must fulfill five co-curricular components of the Grand Challenge he or she chooses to address: service learning, global dimension, entrepreneurship, independent research and an interdisciplinary curriculum that promotes viewing the problem through both a scientific and a humanitarian lens.

At the annual Grand Challenge Scholars Showcase, the students illustrated their proficiencies in their chosen areas, presenting research into the problem, innovative ideas to solve them and an understanding of how the problem and their potential solution could affect people.

Jessica Supple, 2018 graduate, says that the program helped her develop skills and ideas to address the global problem of capturing and storing carbon dioxide.

“Through the five GCSP components, I have become a well-rounded person able to contribute ideas to develop carbon sequestration methods,” Supple said.