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College of Engineering & Science - Louisiana Tech University

Grand Challenge Scholars Program

The National Academy of Engineering has outlined fourteen Grand Challenges to address some of the most important and complex issues facing our world in the 21st century. Solving these problems will require the best efforts of engineers and scientists integrating their knowledge, expertise and creativity with a variety of other experts in global and social issues. The Academy’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program is designed to prepare our engineering and science students to solve these issues. Thus, the vision of the Louisiana Tech College of Engineering and Science Grand Challenge Scholar Program is to encourage, educate and prepare our students to lead the charge in addressing the Grand Challenges.

Louisiana Tech Grand Challenge Scholars

The first two Louisiana Tech Grand Challenge Scholars, Louis Reis (chemical and biomedical engineering) and Stephanie Parker (electrical engineering), completed the program in May 2011 as two of only fourteen students around the country to complete the program in 2011. In May 2012, four more students, Kate Elfer (nanosystems engineering), Megan Carroll (biomedical engineering), Dela Jakob-Wood (mechanical engineering), and Nishi Mehta (biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, and physics), completed the Tech program. Four students, Kendall Belcher (civil engineering), Jake Eppehimer (mechanical engineering), Ryan Land (electrical engineering), and Nicole Roberts (mechanical engineering) completed the program in 2013. Watch the 2011 Grand Challenge Scholars Showcase video. Read more about the 2012 and 2013 Scholars.

Graphic with group photo of the GCSP, 2013 Grand Challenge Scholars, Kendall Belcher (Civil Engineering), Jake Eppehimer (Mechanical Engineering), Ryan Land (Electrical Engineering), Nicole Roberts (Mechanical Engineering)

Photo of Louis Reis and Stephanie Parker, the first Louisiana Tech Grand Challenge Scholars

Graphic including group photo of the 2012 Louisiana Tech Grand Challenge Scholars Program Graduates, College of Engineering and Science, GCSP, Kate Elfer, Nishi Mehta, Megan Carroll, Dela Jakub-Wood

Do You Know the 14 National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges?

1. Make solar energy economical
2. Provide energy from fusion
3. Develop carbon sequestration methods
4. Manage the nitrogen cycle
5. Provide access to clean water
6. Restore and improve urban infrastructure
7. Advance health informatics
8. Engineer better medicines
9. Reverse-engineer the brain
10. Prevent nuclear terror
11. Secure cyberspace
12. Enhance virtual reality
13. Advance personalized learning
14. Engineer the tools of scientific discovery

Apply to the Grand Challenge Scholars Program

To apply to become a Grand Challenge Scholar Apprentice, a student must:

1. Be enrolled in sophomore-level or higher engineering or science major;

2. Have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better;

3. Submit a completed application form (including a personal essay and recommendations from two College faculty, including a Grand Challenge Scholars Faculty Mentor); and

4. Submit a proposed Grand Challenge Curricular Plan which encompasses the required five curricular components as outlined in the Grand Challenge Scholars Program.

The Grand Challenge Oversight Committee will review all applications/recommend students for admission. A maximum of 50 students can be enrolled in the program at any time.

Grand Challenge Scholars Curricular Plan

Each applicant must develop a Curricular Plan which satisfactorily addresses each of the following components as outlined in the Grand Challenge Scholars program.

1. Research Experience

Participate in an approved team or independent senior capstone research or design project and course(s) relating to a Grand Challenge theme or specific Grand Challenge problem.

2. Interdisciplinary Curriculum

Complete either the integrated interdisciplinary Living With The Lab Freshman Engineering Curriculum or integrated science curriculum and one of the following:

BISC 470 – Medical Ethics,
BLAW 255 – Legal Environment of Business,
HNRS 110 – Foundations of Sociological Thought,
HNRS 114 – Foundations of Behavioral Thought,
HNRS 212 – Foundations of American Political Thought, or
POLS 350 – International Relations.

3. Entrepreneurship

Either enter a Grand Challenge-related project in the Association of Business, Engineering, and Science Entrepreneurs (ABESE) Top Dawg Business Plan Competition; or complete ENTR 430 - Innovative Product Design, and ENTR 460 - Innovative Venture Research.

4. Global Dimension

Complete either:

A Louisiana Tech University Study Abroad Program,
An approved international study program,
An internship with a significant global focus,
A research experience with a significant global focus, or
GEOG 205 - Cultural Geography, and one of the following courses:

HIST 406 - Modern Eastern Europe,
HIST 441 - History of Latin America since 1824,
HIST 436 - History of the Modern Near East,
POLS 460 - Politics of Developing Nations,
POLS 465 - Asian Politics,
GEOG 470 - Urban Geography,
POLS 302 - Comparative Foreign Governments,
POLS 350 - International Relations,
POLS 355 - American Foreign Policy, or
SOC 360 - Sociology of Terrorism and Social Movements.

Students must submit a justification for how their proposed experience will cultivate an enhanced global awareness in their field.

5. Service Learning

Participate one or more years as:

A Supplemental Instruction tutor, or
A Bulldog Achievement Resource Center (BARC) Tutor,

Or a sustained contribution for one or more years to:

Engineers without Borders project, or
Louisiana Tech Engineering and Science Association (LTESA) service project(s), or
Equivalent approved experience.

All courses must be completed with a grade of “B” or higher.

Curricular Connectivity

The Grand Challenge Curricular Plan must demonstrate intellectual and thematic connectivity across the five curricular components and a Grand Challenge theme or problem.

Grand Challenge Faculty Mentor

Each Grand Challenge Scholar Apprentice must have a Grand Challenge Faculty Mentor to counsel and direct the completion of their Curricular Plan. At the completion of the Plan, the Mentor must write a letter of recommendation to the Grand Challenge Steering Committee, to accompany the Apprentice’s final report, in support of their application to be named a Louisiana Tech College of Engineering and Science Grand Challenge Scholar.

Grand Challenge Progress Review

To remain in the program, a Grand Challenge Scholar Apprentice must maintain a 3.2 or better GPA, meet once a quarter with their Grand Challenge Faculty Mentor/Grand Challenge Director to review their progress and Curricular Plan, and submit a progress report to their Grand Challenge Faculty Mentor outlining their accomplishments for the past academic year and a detailed plan for the upcoming academic year.

For more information please contact:
Dr. Leland Weiss
Grand Challenge Scholars Program
College of Engineering and Science
Louisiana Tech University
Ruston, LA 71272
(318) 257-5113