Engineering student to join exclusive group of Grand Challenge Scholar graduates

May 19, 2014 | Engineering and Science

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The National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program (NAE GCSP) at Louisiana Tech University will add another graduate to its exclusive ranks at spring commencement Saturday when Brittany Copponex, a mechanical engineering student from Prairieville, La., becomes just the 11th student from Louisiana Tech to complete the national program.

From left – Dr. Jenna Carpenter, Brittany Copponex, Dr. Katie Evans.

From left – Dr. Jenna Carpenter, Brittany Copponex, Dr. Katie Evans.

Copponex will join the distinguished group of students who have graduated from one of only 16 Grand Challenge Scholars Programs in the United States.  The Grand Challenge Scholars Program, which started at Louisiana Tech in 2009, is an interdisciplinary co-curricular program designed to better prepare engineering graduates to solve real-world, 21st century problems and enhance their leadership and interpersonal skills.

Students in the NAE GCSP combine interdisciplinary courses and activities outside of the classroom that help them better understand the broader social, cultural, and ethical implications of their technology.

“We are so pleased to be able to offer our students here at Louisiana Tech the opportunity to participate in innovative, nationally prominent programs such as the Grand Challenge Scholars Program,” said Dr. Jenna Carpenter, associate dean of undergraduate studies for the College of Engineering and Science and chair of the national NAE GCSP Steering Committee.  “Experiences of this caliber set them apart as among the most qualified engineering graduates in the country.”

In addition to completing an interdisciplinary curriculum through the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-based “Living with the Lab” courses and a minor in business administration, Copponex was a leader both on and off campus, serving as president for the Louisiana Tech Society of Women Engineers, secretary for Engineers without Borders, assistant editor for the Engineering and Science Magazine, and a board member for Bulldog Entrepreneurs.

“With heightened technology and connectivity in the world today, engineers and scientists in the 21st century are called to perform with high standards,” Copponex said.  “In this program, I have learned to apply my knowledge and capabilities to make a global impact through day-to-day actions. I am very proud to be a part of a group of graduates who share this global passion and mindset.”

Dr. Katie Evans, associate professor of math in the College of Engineering and Science and faculty advisor, said that Louisiana Tech’s interdisciplinary and collaborative environment is an ideal home for such a program.

“The Grand Challenge Scholars Program stresses the multi-faceted education and development of future engineers and scientists with the goal of fostering a mindset in society’s next technological leaders to think broadly about all aspects required to solve the world’s most challenging problems,” said Evans.  “We are excited to recruit a new cohort of Grand Challenge Scholars Program Apprentices this coming fall.”

For more information about the Louisiana Tech Grand Challenge Scholars Program, including how to join, visit Written by Brandy McKnight –