University of Bridgeport Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program Announced

The first cohort of the University of Bridgeport Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) candidates has been announced by the School of Engineering Dean and Senior Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research, Dr. Tarek Sobh.

“I’m pleased and honored to introduce these exceptional undergraduate students who will join UB’s inaugural Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program: Youssef Agiez and Subash Gautam (Computer Engineering), Tarunjit Kumar and Dat Tran (Computer Science), and Nicolas Cardenas Portaccio and Wayne Teto (Electrical Engineering),” said Sobh.

Dean Sobh was one of the 122 U.S. engineering school deans who committed to President Barack Obama to prepare specially trained engineers to address the major global challenges of the 21st century. These “Grand Challenges” are complex, critical goals which include areas such as providing clean access to water globally, engineering better medicines, enhancing virtual reality, making solar energy cost-competitive with coal, securing cyberspace, reverse-engineering the brain, advancing personalized learning tools to deliver better education to more individuals and engineering the tools for scientific discovery.

Over the next two years, the students will be guided by the School of Engineering faculty members: Dr. Khaled Elleithy, Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research and Associate Dean of the School of Engineering; Professor Abhilasha Tibrewal, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and Engineering; and Dr. Jani Macari Pallis, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

“The Grand Challenges cannot be solved with just engineering and technology.  The students’ horizons must be expanded to encompass an innovative and global perspective and develop an appreciation of how engineering serves human welfare,” said Elleithy.  In addition to a research project connected to one of the Grand Challenge areas, students will explore related interdisciplinary fields such as public policy, ethics, and entrepreneurship and will engage in global and domestic service-learning projects.

Wayne Teto, a U.S. Army veteran studying electrical engineering with an emphasis in robotics affirmed: “The program will help me apply my knowledge and engineering skills to make a difference in people’s lives.”   Computer science student, Dat Tran added, “Personalized learning in my personal opinion is a promising field that should be applied around the world. One of my dreams is to build and maintain a technology infrastructure around the world to accommodate technical development and communication in developing countries.”

More information on the 14 National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges can be found at the Academy’s website:

For more information about the program, contact:

Dr. Jani Pallis

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Telephone: (203) 576-4579

University of Bridgeport, School of Engineering
Engineering Technology Building, Office 133
126 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604

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