Georgia Tech students possess not only a drive to succeed professionally, but also a passion to use their knowledge and expertise to make the world a better place. Our students are noted for their collaborations with one another, their communities, and students around the globe, and this work has consistent and genuine impact. The Institute strives not only to honor their achievements, but also to provide the best programming and resources to support our students’ endeavors.
In an effort to fight cardiovascular disease, a team of biomedical engineering students devised an electrocardiograph, a device used to detect and diagnose heart abnormalities, from e-waste components. The team acquired smart phones through donation programs, using the cell phone hardware for processing and transmission, while other components were used for signal input and isolation.
The team placed first in the International E-Waste Design Competition’s “E-Waste Reuse category” for their project, dubbed CardioReach.
Although technologies that detect and treat cardiovascular diseases exist, they are not available in many developing countries, which is why the Georgia Tech team took on the project. The team is working on making CardioReach less expensive but still more competitive than other similar devices in use in Brazil, Russia, China, and India.
Fighting cancer is the focus of one of two students who this year received Goldwater Scholarships, the premier academic award given to mathematics, science, and engineering undergraduates.
As a freshman, biomedical engineering major Binbin Chen began working “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Assistant Professor Manu Platt on a cancer project. “Both of my grandfathers died of cancer, so I always hoped to contribute on the battlefield of cancer research,” Chen said.
Georgia Tech graduate students have always played a vital collaborative role with Institute faculty members in addressing real-world challenges. Such was the case with RealOpt-ABM, a large-scale modeling and decision support software suite that was developed to model guest movement through the Georgia Aquarium. Developed by Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Eva Lee and graduate student Chien-Hung Chen—with the support of ten graduate students—the software helped the Aquarium dramatically improve the flow of guests through its 84,000-square-foot AT&T Dolphin Tales attraction. The RealOpt-ABM project was one of six finalists for the 2011 Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice.
Also receiving a Goldwater Scholarship was computer science major Ramya Ramakrishnan, who plans to carry on research in the field of human-computer interaction. Venkat Goli, a chemical and biomolecular engineering major, received an honorable mention. Goldwater Scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
In addition to his studies in chemical and biomolecular engineering, undergraduate Onaje LaMont spends a great deal of time on community service projects such as conducting leadership workshops, mentoring peers, fundraising for cancer survivors, participating in literacy programs, and raising money to support scholarships.
LaMont was honored for his efforts last fall with the $10,000 Pearson Prize for Higher Education, which recognizes students who have distinguished themselves through academic excellence in pursuit of an undergraduate degree while also serving the community.
Seven high-achieving engineering students were named to the inaugural class of NASA Space Technology Research Fellows: Chris Coen from electrical and computer engineering and Nicole Bauer, Matthew Bopp, Cole Kazemba, Demyan Lantukh, Mihir Pathak, and Zach Putnam from aerospace engineering.
The students received graduate fellowships from NASA to pursue master’s or doctoral degrees in relevant space technology disciplines at Tech. The Space Technology Fellows will perform innovative space technology research while building the skills necessary to become future technological leaders. The awards include a stipend that ranges from $30,000 to $36,000.
Augmenting prestigious awards received by individual students are a total of seven awards garnered by Tech’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) for its work in scholarship and service. These included the Academic Achievement and Scholarship Programming Award, credited to the work of scholarship chairs from each chapter throughout the year.
“By the end of 2011, every chapter on campus had a scholarship plan in place versus the two-thirds that did at the start of the year,” said Mason Elledge, IFC vice president of communications.
Other awards for IFC include Educational Programming, Outstanding Education Program, Campus and Community Relations, Community Service, Outstanding Philanthropy, and an honorable mention for Risk Management and Judicial Procedures.
As the societal need for highly skilled engineers increases, technological universities across the country are faced with the challenge of undergraduate engineering students dropping out of their programs of study before graduating. To combat this problem, the White House launched its “Stay With It” campaign last year on the Georgia Tech campus to encourage undergraduate engineering students to stay with their field of study and graduate with an engineering degree.
Launched by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, “Stay With It” is the first student outreach campaign focused on connecting engineering students to a community of their peers and experienced engineers, role models, and influencers to encourage them to stay with their field of study through graduation.
Nationally, only 14 percent of all U.S. undergraduate students are enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, and there is a 40 percent attrition rate for those enrolled in these disciplines after the first year. Georgia Tech, however, is the gold standard for the retention and graduation of students in these fields—94 percent freshman retention, 80 percent six-year graduation rate—which is why the Institute was selected to host the campaign launch.
“We are changing the way engineers learn with new approaches to the undergraduate curriculum,” said College of Engineering Dean Gary May, a Georgia Tech alumnus. “Rather than focus on traditional means to deliver content, we give students complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems to help them develop effective problem-solving skills and participate in self-directed learning. The professor becomes more of a facilitator supporting the student’s learning process.”