International scholarship program links Duke, NCSU

jstancill@newsobserver.comMarch 13, 2013 

  • What are the Grand Challenges for Engineering?

    The National Academy of Engineering has identified 14 goals that could result in game-changing breakthroughs.

    •  Make solar energy economical • Provide energy from fusion • Develop carbon sequestration methods • Manage the nitrogen cycle • Provide access to clean water • Restore and improve urban infrastructure • Advance health informatics • Engineer better medicines • Reverse-engineer the brain • Prevent nuclear terror • Secure cyberspace • Enhance virtual reality • Advance personalized learning • Engineer the tools of scientific discovery

A new engineering scholarship program will recruit international graduate students to the United States and bring together two of the Triangle’s universities – Duke and N.C. State.

The Vest Scholarships program, announced Wednesday, was termed a “reverse Rhodes Scholarship” by Tom Katsouleas, dean of Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. It was unveiled in London at the first Global Grand Challenges Summit, an event that aims engineers toward achieving 14 major 21st Century scientific goals identified by the National Academy of Engineering.

The scholarship collaboration involves Duke, NCSU and six other universities – California Institute of Technology, Olin College, University of Southern California, University of Washington, Illinois Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Students chosen for the scholarship will receive an expense-paid year at one of the eight universities, where they will work on research projects related to the so-called grand challenges. The scholarships will be funded by the host universities, an NCSU spokesman said.

In a news release announcing the scholarship, Louis Martin-Vega, dean of NCSU’s College of Engineering, said the Vest Scholarships will link some of the world’s top graduate students with leading researchers in the United States.

“The grand challenges can’t be met by one group of people in one field,” Martin-Vega said. “Finding the right solutions requires a focused, global effort that brings together people from different disciplines and backgrounds to develop new ideas.”

The program is named for Charles Vest, the outgoing president of the National Academy of Engineering and former MIT president.

Stancill: 919-829-4559

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