“It was a great opportunity to meet and learn from other students interested in how engineering could benefit other friends of study. I joined clubs, found internships, and worked on research projects that were interesting to me! Once I found my footing, I then moved around in each of those situations until I found something that matched a Grand Challenge. As someone interested in health and education, I was able to volunteer with Troy Camp, research HIV, and work as a Tour Guide, all of which benefited my growth as a Grand Challenge Scholar!Jack Cagney '20Industrial and Systems Engineering
The Grand Challenges Scholars Program showed me that engineers can work in almost any field! I studied engineering not to be an engineer, but to be an effective problem solver, data scientist, and researcher. After graduation, I will be working at the intersection of epidemiology, data science, and global health research, which are all aspects of GCSP!
Viterbi students have access to everything USC has to offer, meaning you can truly combine engineering with any other field of choice. I was able to minor in the Keck School of Medicine, conduct research in Dornsife and the Price School of Public Policy, and study abroad through the Marshall School of Business! Each experience helped me grow as a professional, scholar, and person, and each experience helped me check off one more requirement of the Grand Challenges Program!”
“I wanted to be part of this program because engineering is a global discipline that requires multicultural understanding to solve the world's most pressing engineering problems. I felt that completing this program would make me a stronger and more knowledgeable engineer. My genuine interests in volunteering, joining multi-disciplinary organizations, conducting research, pursuing an internship, and studying abroad helped me complete the 5 competencies. These interests as well as guiding advice from Dean Yates and Myra Fernandez allowed me to successfully complete this program.Jamie Schlacter '20Biomedical Engineering
This program has influenced me to continue pursuing my engineering interests in advancing health informatics as I continue on to earn my medical degree. Completing this program helped me apply what I was learning inside the classroom and enhance my understanding through meaningful activities outside of the classroom. Because of this program, I have become a more well-rounded engineer prepared to solve problems in a global context.”
“I wanted to be named a Grand Challenges Scholar at the end of senior year and receive the cash prize. To accomplish this goal, I joined Viterbi and non-Viterbi orgs, completed a study abroad program, and pursued a minor outside of Viterbi. I became interested in a career in cybersecurity, which I may not have known about without trying to complete the 5 competencies.Julia Sircar '20Industrial and Systems Engineering
The GCS program provides a clear framework to ensure you are getting a well-rounded, holistic education beyond the scope of engineering. Engineers need to understand more than just math and science, and the GCS program prepares you to solve problems in a global context.”
“I wanted my engineering experience at USC to be directed towards addressing real-world, social, and environmental issues. I took advantage of the many opportunities presented to students in Viterbi and USC, from student orgs, business competitions, and volunteering opportunities in the community. It has made me aware of the ways my engineering toolset can impact global issues as I move forward in my career. The Grand Challenges Program helps you become a more socially aware and well-rounded engineer.” Roxanna Pakkar '20Electrical Engineering
“I wanted to connect with like-minded students to tackle the greatest engineering challenges we are currently facing as a society. I found a vast array of enrichment opportunities offered by Viterbi such as the Tsinghua Summer Research Program as well as clubs like Engineers Without Borders that addressed the five competencies. The Grand Challenges Scholars Program motivated me to pursue medical school so that I can synthesize my engineering and medical knowledge to innovate new medical technology. The most valuable aspect of the Grand Challenges Program at Viterbi is the sense of community. Everyone amalgamates their different areas of expertise to create something beautiful that can change the world around us.” Neelesh Bagrodia '20Biomedical Engineering
“I wanted to participate in the Grand Challenges program because I thought the program would really help to enhance my engineering curriculum while working toward a common cause. I got involved in a wide variety of activities and organizations from working in a research lab to studying abroad, to participating in Makeathons. It allowed me to view a problem from different perspectives, and this mentality is important for working within the medical device industry or in any engineering job. The Grand Challenges Program is valuable because it allowed me to work toward a Grand Challenge through a variety of ways and contributed to my education by giving me diverse experiences. It pushed me to challenge myself and participate in new activities and organizations.” Kayley Cheng '20Biomedical Engineering (Mechanical Emphasis)
“I've always been passionate about using my education to make a difference in the world, and this program gave me an avenue to find real-world relevance to my classes. I liked that it encouraged me to diversify my experiences at USC and to get involved with activities outside of Viterbi. As someone that is not necessarily planning on being an engineer for the rest of my life, I was especially drawn towards the multidisciplinary aspect of the program.Nathan Alvarez '20Mechanical Engineering
I did not center my college experience around the GCSP competencies; instead, I pushed myself to find interesting, diverse involvements that helped solve problems in the world that excited me. After finding my involvement this way, I was able to easily fit them into the five competencies. Using the competencies as a general guide, rather than as a rigid checklist of requirements, allowed me to follow my passions in more creative ways that I could tailor to my interests.
Rather than doing homework and class projects for the sake of a good grade, I was able to see the relevance of what I was learning and how it can be applied to solve some of the world's most pressing issues. This program's emphasis on creating well-rounded engineers was also incredibly beneficial because it pushed me to explore areas outside of engineering and build on what I learned in my classes. The GCSP helped me realize my responsibility as an engineer to address and solve relevant, pressing problems in the world. After I finish graduate school, I know that my involvement in this program will guide my career towards one focused on addressing a grand challenge and driving a positive change in the world.”
“As a freshman, I was introduced to the Grand Challenges of Engineering in my Introduction to Engineering class (a replacement for major-specific intro courses, for undecided engineering majors). We read through what it meant to become an "Engineer of 2020" and since this moment, I have believed that engineers have a unique responsibility to steer technology towards a direction of positive impact, with ethics and real humans at the center of our mission. This led me towards the desire to participate in the Grand Challenges. To achieve this, I focused on Virtual Reality (as well as its interaction with Brain-Computer Interface technology) as my Grand Challenge because I believe in its potential to share diverse experiences, promote learning, and more; and equally hope to prevent its potential for abuse and disengagement in our society. I got involved in a Video Game Programming specialization in Viterbi, participated in the Mixed Reality club, engaged in classes (and articles) focusing on science/technology ethics and philosophy, and wrote papers on this topic.Madelyn Douglas '20Electrical (Computer) Engineering
With the Grand Challenges in mind, I hope to enroll in a program focused on the Philosophy and Ethics of Technology in the future (specifically with regard to Virtual Reality and Brain-Computer Interfaces) and push for proactive policies addressing up-and-coming technology. Viterbi has offered me invaluable resources and mentors to pursue the Grand Challenges and has provided me with inspiration from an interdisciplinary and thoughtful group of peers.”