About Me

Elizabeth Griffin, Duke University Class of 2019




Major:                                                      Environmental Engineering

Certificate Program:                       Global Development Engineering

Hometown:                                           Franklin, Massachusetts

Grand Challenge Focus:                 Providing Access to Clean Water

Grand Challenge Advisor:             Dr. David Schaad

Contact:                                                 elizabeth.r.griffin@duke.edu


What are the Grand Challenges?

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering identified 14 “Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century” that aim to improve sustainability, health, security, and the joy of living worldwide. The next generation of engineers will be tasked with creating innovative solutions to these challenges. Therefore, engineering programs at over 40 universities around the world have adopted the Grand Challenge Scholars Program as a way to better prepare students for the real world problems they will face, and also to allow them to begin addressing these urgent needs while they are still undergraduates.

The Grand Challenge Scholars Program at Duke is a combined curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular program with 5 key competencies that are designed give students the technical expertise, breadth of knowledge, and the social, ethical and environmental awareness needed to be leaders in addressing the 14 NAE Grand Challenges.

1. Hands-on research

2. Interdisciplinary curriculum

3. Innovation and entrepreneurship experience

4. A global dimension

5. Service learning

The Grand Challenge I have chosen to focus on is Providing Access to Clean Water. This portfolio illustrates the research, classes, and other experiences I have completed or plan to complete in my effort to address this critical issue.

Why the GCS Program?

Working on the implementation of a rainwater catchment system with community members in Manantenina, Madagascar.

I believe my goals for my education and career naturally align with the five themes of the Grand Challenge Scholar Program. I aim to study the clean water access problem, and work towards significantly increasing access to water and sanitation on a global scale. I enjoy both technical and broader cultural and social research, and believe it is essential to constantly be questioning our current methods of solving problems. I am always eager to find new and innovative ways to address major problems, especially those affecting people in disadvantaged regions around the world. The emphasis on an interdisciplinary curriculum allows for an integrated approach to solving such problems. This program provides the opportunity to gain knowledge about potential cultural, social, political, and economic barriers to solving the water access problem through this interdisciplinary approach. I look forward to using this knowledge to base my research into water access barriers on a global scale. Gaining innovation and entrepreneurial experience appeals to me from a professional development standpoint, as I know that no solution to any major problem will every be successful unless it can reach a lot of people. Entrepreneurship teaches the skills to market and distribute a product or service to a wide market, which is invaluable especially in the field of engineering. Finally, the global and service learning dimensions of the Grand Challenge Scholar Program appeal to me because I am dedicated to use my education to benefit those without the same opportunities that I have had. I also believe clean water access is a basic human right and am extremely passionate about making this vital resource available to the 1 billion people worldwide that currently lack it.