The Grand Challenge Scholar Program was started by the National Academy of Engineers to prepare engineering students to tackle what they deemed to be the fourteen greatest engineering challenges of the next generation. Grand Challenge Scholars achieve this through an interdisciplinary curriculum, entrepreneurship and experiences, service-learning, and research all focused around one challenge. Read more about the grand challenges here.
I am currently a junior at Duke University majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science with a certificate in Energy and the Environment. My grand challenge focus is to restore and improve urban infrastructure, specifically with regard to its environmental sustainability. My GCS advisor is Dr. Leslie Collins.
I want to be a Grand Challenge Scholar because I want to equip myself with the knowledge, insight, and expertise to become a global leader at the forefront of the movement to transition society’s framework to a sustainable future. Such a position would require the integration of knowledge from diverse fields such as public policy, ethics, environmental science, and engineering, and I believe that participation in the Grand Challenge program would aid me in developing and connecting my experiences. I love the challenge of tackling seemingly impossible problems, and I want to spend my time working on something that is worthwhile and will make a positive impact in people’s lives. I cannot think of a better way to accomplish both goals than participating in the Grand Challenge.
I am fascinated by the way technological innovations have the ability to alter and enhance human behavior, culture, and environmental health, and the Grand Challenge portfolio would help me develop and promote human-centered design that enables communities to reach their greatest potential while protecting the earth’s natural resources.
I plan to work on improving urban infrastructure because the nexus of food, water, and energy systems raises many concerns for existing infrastructure, and offers solutions that may dramatically improve sustainability and reduce poverty. Significant changes are necessary to transition to a carbon-free electric grid and transportation system, enable advances in agriculture to provide food for a growing population, and ensure the security of connected devices and data streams.
The opportunity to learn about and reflect on the relationship between technological advances and the pressing water, food, and energy crisis is the most effective way to prepare myself for an engineering career dedicated to helping communities solve these crisis.