Tech to graduate National Academy of Grand Challenge Scholars

May 6, 2012 | Engineering and Science

Louisiana Tech University’s National Academy of Grand Challenge Scholars program is about to add four more graduates to its prestigious ranks. Kate Elfer (nanosystems engineering), Megan Carroll (biomedical engineering), Dela Jakob-Wood (mechanical engineering), and Nishi Mehta (biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, and physics) will join an elite group of Grand Challenges graduates from around the United States. Louisiana Tech is one of only twelve universities nationwide with an active Grand Challenge Scholars program. “We are so pleased with the success of our Grand Challenge Scholars,” said Dr. Jenna Carpenter, associate dean for the College of Engineering and Science and the Wayne and Juanita Spinks Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Louisiana Tech.  “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.” In addition to being a Grand Challenge Scholar, Elfer received a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Tulane University.  Tech’s College of Engineering and Science recently held its second annual National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Showcase, which featured the work of the four graduating Grand Challenge Scholars. Elfer credits her Grand Challenge experiences with helping her land the fellowship.  “The Grand Challenge Scholars Program provided a solid framework for me to organize all of the various activities I have accomplished at Louisiana Tech,” said Elfer. The Grand Challenge Scholars Program was started in 2009 by the National Academy of Engineering in an effort to better prepare engineering graduates to solve the complex issues facing the world in the 21st century.  It requires students to go beyond the regular curriculum by combining engineering and science courses with experiences and activities outside of class that help them understand the broader social, cultural, and ethical implications of their technology through research experience, interdisciplinary curricula, entrepreneurship experiences, global exposure, and service learning. Carpenter leads Louisiana Tech’s Grand Challenges Scholars program along with steering committee members Dr. Brad Cicciarelli, a lecturer in chemical and mechanical engineering, Dr. Katie Evans, an associate professor of mathematics, Dr. Leland Weiss, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. June Feng, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Carpenter also serves as the chair of the national-level National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program Steering Committee. Written by Catherine Fraser –