A student and several faculty members from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program represented Arizona State University at the 2016 National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. on Oct. 6-7, 2016.
Held by the National Academy of Engineering, the event sought to lay the foundation for future improvements in the national engineering program.
At the event, Amy Trowbridge, lecturer and director of ASU’s GCSP program, was selected to share best practices from ASU’s program on a small panel.
Kaleigh Johnson, a chemical engineering senior, was also invited to represent ASU on a student and alumni panel where she shared how the program shaped her career goals and undergraduate experiences.
At the meeting, Trowbridge and Johnson attended sessions on topics including raising program visibility and retention, best practices of current GCSPs, K-12 integration and student and alumni success stories. They were also joined by Associate Professor Jimmy Abbas, a GCSP faculty advisor for biomedical engineering students at ASU, and Professor Emeritus, B.L. Ramakrishna, the previous director of ASU’s GCSP program.
Throughout all of the events, attendees were able to share, promote and develop ideas to further improve GCSP programs across the country.
Representing ASU’s program nationally
Representing one of the largest GCSPs in the country, Trowbridge and Johnson were important voices at the meeting.
She described the week-long residential GCSP Summer Institute program for incoming freshmen students, the FSE 150: Perspectives on Grand Challenges for Engineering course open to all GCSP students, and the student-led Grand Challenge Scholars Alliance organization — all of which are unique to ASU’s program, and have been developed in the last five years.At her panelist presentation, Trowbridge shared insights on how ASU’s GCSP program has built a community of scholars by facilitating connections between students, providing research funding and travel opportunities and ensuring students are oriented and growing within the program from their first day at ASU.
She shared how ASU’s funding support has enabled more students to complete and present research at poster sessions, study abroad and travel to national and international professional development events such as this meeting and the Global Grand Challenges Summit held in Beijing, China, last year.
Friday afternoon featured deep-dive discussions with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. They were joined by the President of the National Academy of Engineering, Dan Mote.
Trowbridge says a notable part of this session was the opportunity to discuss “the very important future step of providing an online community or network for GCSP students from all universities across the nation to connect with each other to share their experiences and perhaps find opportunities to collaborate on future work.”
As an attendee, Trowbridge was able to give input on what form this national network might take and what type of resources and opportunities it should provide.
Benefiting from a strong GCSP community
As a student panelist Johnson says she was “grateful for the chance to describe the impact the program has had on her career.”
She credits the program with helping her to discover her research interest in industrial biotechnology as a freshman.
She served as Trowbridge’s teaching assistant for the introductory GCSP course for two semesters. She’s also served as secretary and president of the Grand Challenge Scholars Alliance, helping to aid students in completing the program’s service learning hours, as well as boosting networking opportunities with industry and faculty.“Since my freshman year I have sought every opportunity to become more involved in the program,” says Johnson, who will graduate in May.
At the panel discussion Johnson says she “shared all of the great things that ASU’s GCSP has done to provide opportunities for students.”
In particular she spoke about the student organization and the GCSP Summer Institute and the ways that ASU has made the program a collaborative and inclusive experience.
“Some programs miss out by not encouraging students to work together to complete the program components,” says Johnson.
She says that engaging with other GCSP students is integral for completing the components and graduating from the program.
Trowbridge also shares this view, saying, “Building a GCSP culture in which students join together as a community to help each other meet their goals has helped ASU to increase student engagement and retention in the program, and increased the number of students who graduate from our program.”