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Welcome to my Grand Challenge Scholars ePortfolio!

Gaurav Uppal

Class of 2020

I am a senior from Ardsley, NY majoring in Mechanical Engineering, pursuing a certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship and a minor in Computer Science at Duke University. As a part of the Thomas A. Katsouleas Grand Challenge Scholars Program, I am pursuing an innovative course of study centered around the following key themes: research, an interdisciplinary curriculum, innovation and entrepreneurship, service learning, and a global dimension. The GCS program has students take on 1 of 14 Challenges established by the National Academy of Engineering. My challenge is restoring and improving urban infrastructure, and I am approaching the challenge through the lens of renewable energy innovation and development.

The Grand Challenge Scholars program appealed to me as an academic, an explorer, and an innovator.

As an academic, I enjoy diversity of thinking. I love to read about ethics, philosophy, politics, and environmental policy. I also realize that of viewing problems with many different perspectives helps understand them better and working in the right direction with solving them. As a result, an interdisciplinary curriculum is fundamental to developing the mindset to solve problems that exist on the global scale.

As an explorer, the global dimension of GCS engages my passion for solving problems in communities across the world where culture, technology, and engineering projects have different processes and influences. Being able to solve problems as an engineer in a global context is a unique ability that opens up incredibly diverse opportunities.

As a leader and innovator, it is my goal to start a company that can address a large issue and bring together a brilliant team to solve a pressing problem. At Duke, I am a member of the Cube entrepreneurship Selective Living Group, and interested in building solutions that can be innovative and turn into high social impact businesses.

Service learning is incredibly important because it lets us get out of the college bubble and see the problems that people face on a day-to-day basis and how we can use our engineering and problem solving abilities to frame them in solvable contexts. Additionally, service is one of the most important ways to enable others to live their lives in healthy, safe, and happy ways, which I think should be the goal of every person lucky enough to be in college themselves.

Research, which I will be pursuing further along in my Duke career, is the best way to immerse yourself in a topic and fall in love with learning. It also allows for opportunities to interact with amazing faculty and incredible peers interested in the same goal.

Overall, the Grand Challenge Scholars program aligns with the goals that I have set for my college experience, and supports them with a direction and focus that is tough to find outside of the program.