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College of Engineering joins national scholars program

NDSU engineering students are taught to think of solutions to issues challenging society. And now some of them will take part in a formal, national program aimed at doing so.

The NDSU College of Engineering recently was accepted into the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program. Among the challenges identified in the program are making solar energy cost-competitive, engineering better medicines, providing access to clean water, ending extreme poverty and hunger, securing cyberspace and advancing personalized learning tools.

NDSU is one of 28 engineering programs to be accepted. Through it, NDSU pledges to educate engineering students through a creative learning experience, experiential learning, entrepreneurship, service-learning and global and cross-cultural awareness.

Up to 20 scholars per year will be selected for the program. “They will be paired with a faculty mentor to conduct research, take classes and be part of experiences that will mold and direct them toward leadership in solving the complex engineering issues facing society,” said Gary Smith, dean of the NDSU College of Engineering. 

Smith said the scholars program is a natural fit for the college’s mission to produce creative and innovative graduates and research to meet the changing needs of a global society.

The program components are:

·      a research experience related to a grand challenge

·      an interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares engineering students to work at the overlap with public policy, business, law, ethics, human behavior, risk medicine and the sciences

·      entrepreneurship to prepare students to translate invention to innovation and to develop market ventures that scale to global solutions in the public interest

·      a global dimension that develops the students’ global perspectives necessary to address challenges that are inherently global as well as to lead innovation in a global economy

·      and service learning for developing and deepening students’ social consciousness and their motivation to bring their technical expertise to bear on societal problems.

In addition, the NDSU program will focus on developing leadership skills.

“Research is a lifelong skill and having a global awareness is vitally important, but we also want to prepare students to be ready and capable to set into leadership roles,” Smith said.

In March 2015, NDSU was one of 120 institutions across the country to commit to addressing “grand challenges” identified by several national initiatives, including the White House Strategy for American Innovation, the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges for Engineers and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

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