Twelve students from The Australian National University (ANU) College of Engineering and Computer Science will tomorrow become the first Australians to take part in the internationally renowned US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP).
The program will see the group join some of the world's best engineering students to tackle some of the major global challenges of the 21st Century - with a focus on preparing them for the future of the engineering industry.
ANU engineering student Thomas Larkin was successful in applying for the program and will be working on designing a new type of cocoa bean drying oven for use in Papua New Guinea which is entirely powered by renewable energy sources. Thomas said he was excited to be chosen as part of the program.
"It's seen as very prestigious over in the United States and I thought it was an exciting opportunity to be one of the first Australians to be able to take part," Mr Larkin said.
"I think it will be helpful to have something that is internationally recognised alongside an ANU degree once I graduate, especially if I want to work overseas."
ANU research engineer Jeremy Smith, a winner of the 2017 Australian Awards for University Teaching, will head the program at ANU.
"These are some of the brightest engineering students in the country and we are really looking forward to getting the students all together tomorrow for the first time to welcome them to the program," Mr Smith said.
"This program will provide an opportunity for these students to work on futuristic technologies such as wearable health devices and artificial intelligence to reverse engineer the brain."
Dean of the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science Professor Elanor Huntington said the Grand Challenge Scholars Program was a natural fit for engineering programs at ANU.
"Engineering and computing at ANU have always had a strong focus on allowing students to apply their skills to practical solutions in areas of personal interest," Professor Huntington said.
"The Grand Challenge Scholars Program will give students the opportunity to apply their skills to some of the big issues facing the world, such as the need for clean energy, access to clean water, keeping cyberspace secure and the need for better medicines."
Professor Huntington said she was delighted to see an equal gender split across the students chosen to take part.
"This equal balance will offer a broader range of perspective in project direction and solution design and reinforces the College's commitment to driving greater diversity."
The program will see students combine formal courses, research, internships, work experience, extra-curricular and volunteering with some expected to travel overseas.
Once students meet the attainment level they are recognised as an NAE Grand Challenge Scholar.
The ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science is undergoing a project to reimagine a new type of engineering and computing that is custom built and fit for the middle of the 21st century. Visit https://cecs.anu.edu.au/reimagine to stay connected and find out more.