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Current Scholars

Jood Ali
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Minor: Entrepreneurship
GCSP Cohort 3 (2018)
Expected Graduation: 2020

Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?

I was first drawn to the Grand Challenges Scholars Program because I wanted to have a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself. I want to work with diverse individuals in an interdisciplinary way to help solve real-world problems. 

Which of the Grand Challenges you interest you most, and why?
I’m intrigued by multiple challenges that ultimately work together to reach a common goal. I’m most interested in engineering better medicines while reducing cost and being environmentally cautious about my design, application, and disposal. This is why I am also drawn to making solar power economical and providing access to clean water. 

What are your plans after graduation? 
My ultimate goal is to work with assistive technology and help make everyday life easier for the disabled. I want to introduce affordable solutions that can be easily integrated around the world. After graduation, I hope to continue my education and earn my Ph.D. while still working to solve some of these challenges.

Jordan Armstead
Major: Mechanical Engineering
GCSP Cohort 3 (2018)
Expected Graduation: 2020

Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I joined the program in order to develop interdisciplinary skills and to find out more about how I can pursue a path in humanitarian engineering. I hope to be a part of providing access to clean water all around the world.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why? 

Providing access to clean water interests me most because there are so many people around the world that do not have access to such an important amenity.
What are your plans after graduation?
My goals after graduation are to pursue a career in humanitarian engineering by taking the skills I have gained from this program to continue working toward solutions to the grand challenges of our world.

 

 


David Barry
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Entrepreneurship
Certificate: Peace Corps Prep
GCSP Cohort 2 (2017)
Expected Graduation: 2020


Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I joined the Grand Challenge Scholars Program to solve large-scale problems that negatively affect people. I hope to able to cultivate my skills as an engineer and a problem solver through this program and gain confidence in my ability to address daunting challenges in the workforce and in my personal life.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why?
The Grand Challenge that interests me the most is Personalized Education. I believe that while education is not the answer to all our world’s many problems, it is the only way to empower people to do good. I hope to help to improve and revamp our current education so that it better teaches the most in demand skills (eg. problem solving, creative and analytical thinking) and not just knowledge and facts.
What are your plans after graduation?
I want to join the Peace Corps directly after college and help an impoverished community better educate themselves and their children. Peace Corps will also help me decide what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I know now that I want to work to fight for the rights and dignity of all human beings. I am thinking about graduate or business school after Peace Corps though.

 


Laina Colony
Major: Chemical Engineering (Environmental Engineering & Sustainability Track)
GCSP Cohort 2 (2017)
Expected Graduation: 2020

Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I decided to join the Grand Scholars program because I was intrigued by the opportunities it provides. It will introduce me to leadership skills and many other skills while providing me a way to research a challenge I find interesting. The GCSP will help pave the pathway for my future endeavors.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why?
The challenge I am most interested in is providing access to clean water. I have always been interested in environmental problems and believe they are important problems that need to be solved; that is why my major is environmental engineering. Clean water is a major issue throughout the world and if a new and efficient technology can be designed, millions of people will be helped all over the world. This is a challenge I would like to be a part of.
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to attend graduate school. Graduate school will help me to not only further my knowledge in a particular subject, but will also help me figure out what I want in a career, as will internships throughout college.

 

Randy Deinlein
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Entrepreneurship
GCSP Cohort 3 (2018)
Expected Graduation: 2019

Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I want to find ways I, as a future engineer, can more directly solve some of the worlds issues to make the future, and world a better place. Many engineers design and build things, but I have learned engineers are best at solving problems. There are many problems with the world that are challenging to overcome. I think the Grand Challenges Scholars Program can offer me the opportunity to help find what problems I want to confront, or help me determine future personal goals.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most and why?
Restoring and improving infrastructure interests me the most because I firmly believe that our inner cities can be so much better than what they are ranging from better education, to safer areas, to cleaner environments, etc. Our cities have so much to offer, but certainly have such a negative reputation. I really would like to find a way to make them more robust and enjoyable for everyone living and visiting there. A second challenge I would like to pursue is managing the nitrogen cycle.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation I hope to be working full-time while pursuing my master’s degree,  potentially in environmental engineering.

 

 


 


Steven Hillard
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Information Systems
GCSP Cohort 3 (2018)
Expected Graduation: 2020

Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I joined the Grand Challenges Scholars Program because it provides an opportunity to meet ambitious problem solvers from different disciplines. It also gives the ability to gain more prospective on the world from others and their interdisciplinary backgrounds. This is truly valuable for solving the Grand Challenges, as well as all of the other problems the world will present to us. I am extremely interested in problem solving and always attempting to gain new perspectives so joining this program was an easy decision for me.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why?
The grand challenge that interests me the most would have to be to advance health informatics. This is because, health informatics has the ability to provide higher, more efficient quality care, maintain better records, lower healthcare costs, create less trial and error, and improve our ability to self treat. The examples listed only cover a sample of the potential that advances in healthcare informatics would provide. The true potential for advances in health care informatics is endless.
What are your plans after graduation?
After I graduate I plan on getting a Masters degree in Business Administration. Then, I hope to start a company that will truly make the world a better place and push technological boundaries.


Michael A. LaScola
Major: Biology & Chemical Engineering
GCSP Cohort 3 (2018)
Expected Graduation: 2020

Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?

The purpose of the Grand challenges Scholars Program is to create a diverse movement of students to address grand challenges. I constantly aim to diversify my background, so I can view the world from multiple perspectives. The programs competencies include perspectives that I have missed in my academic career so far. I would like to get the chance to become fluent in those competencies, while strengthening the ones I am already familiar with.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why?
I am most interested in work towards creating better medicines and therapies. The discovery of regulatory mechanisms such as CRISPR and RNAi has opened the door to the generation of revolutionary medicines. I would like to be a part in the manipulation of these mechanisms to help drive their clinical relevance. I have spent a large part of my college career involved in developmental research to lay the foundation of my future work in medicine.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation my primary goal is to obtain a PhD or MD-PhD in Biomedical Engineering, and to ultimately lead a diverse team of researchers that tackle the toughest medical challenges.

 

 


 

Samina Musa
Major: Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering and Sustainability Track
Certificate: Entrepreneurship
GCSP Cohort 3 (2018)
Expected Graduation: 2020


Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I want to have a more hands on experience and gain valuable relationships with real people tackling the challenge of helping underdeveloped nations sustainably develop.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why?
Making Solar Energy Economical and Providing Access to Clean Water because both of these relate to helping developing countries become more self-sufficient.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to work with a United States or International agency in underdeveloped nations. I will possibly continue school for my PhD.

 

 


Eric Shaner
Major: Chemical Engineering
GCSP Cohort 2 (2017)
Expected Graduation: 2020

Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I decided to join the GCSP because it appeared to be an excellent opportunity to kickstart my career path. Along with the numerous interesting challenges proposed, the program will help me apply my class time to the real world.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why?
I’m most interested in the Engineering New Medicines challenge, because there are always new barriers we must break in the medical field to help the world become a better place. Specifically, I’ve always been interested in dementia and how we could find a treatment or even a cure for it.
What are your plans after graduation?
After college I’m not sure exactly what I want to do, but I see numerous possibilities, including completing a Master’s degree and/or working for a company. In the long run, I would be ecstatic to work with medicine or materials.

 

 


Jethro Ssengonzi
Major: Mechanical Engineering
GCSP Cohort 2 (2017)
Expected Graduation: 2020


Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I decided to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program because I wanted to be exposed to scholars from all walks of life who desire to have a global perspective and impact in their respective fields of study.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why?
I have an interest in “Make Solar Energy Economical” because I personally find sustainable energy to be a field that needs to be advanced upon more. I also have interest in the “Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure” project; the basic foundations of a community, the infrastructure, must always be in check for society to operate well. I view both of these challenges as the ones to have the most societal impact.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to obtain a terminal degree. I am still currently looking into what I want to specialize in.

 

 


Danilo Symonette
Major: Computer Science
GCSP Cohort 3 (2019)
Expected Graduation: 2020


Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I decided to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program for two reasons: Firstly, I wanted to extend my interest in using AI in education to pursue the advancement of personalized learning. My research was and still is closely related, and my goals closely aligned with that grand challenge. After reading about the program, and what the NAE believes is necessary for the pursuit of such global ambitions, I decided that joining the Grand Challenge Scholars Program was for me. Secondly, I value the community of like-minded scholars that would be joining me on my journey, and was eager to learn from and contribute to the journey’s of my peers.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why?
Advancing Personalized Learning is my grand challenge, and it interests me most because I believe the root of many cultural and social issues is the quality of education AND support that students receive in school, where they spend almost half of their lives growing up. I think that personalized learning can fill the gaps, and also provide quality education to students that do not traditionally have access
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation I plan to pursue attend grad school and pursue my Ph.D. in Computer Science, Tech and Policy, or Cognitive Science.

 


 

Zachary Voelkel 
Major: Mechanical Engineering
GCSP Cohort 3 (2018)
Expected Graduation: 2020

Why did you decide to join the Grand Challenge Scholars Program?
I joined the Grand Challenges program because I thought that it would be beneficial to join a program that incorporates many major and many personalities. In the real world problems are solved in groups from many departments and there has to be a lot of collaboration between them and I think that the Grand Challenges program is an excellent way to gain experience in that aspect. Additionally, I want to do a study abroad at some point and I believe that the Grand Challenges program is an excellent way to make that wish come true.
Which of the Grand Challenges interest you most, and why?
The two challenges that interest me the most are engineering the tools of scientific discovery and restoring and improving urban infrastructure. In our world today, technology is constantly being advanced and improved. We are finding new tools that help our vehicles run more efficient, our phones last longer, and creating machines that can harness power from the environment. I think that being a part of this change in this category is both invigorating and extremely beneficial because the tools we create now will affect generations to come. Additionally, I chose restoring urban infrastructure because I believe that cities can be an incredible hub of ideas that will help us create these tools and the more we can do catalyze a change in urban infrastructure, the better it will be for us in the future.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I would love to take a month and a half or two month break so that I can travel to New Zealand and Europe maybe. After that hopefully I will be able to find a job.