Engineering students head to global summit in Washington, D.C., this week

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Campbell University’s new engineering program is sending six students this week to the Global Grand Challenge Summit, a conference aimed at inspiring the next generation of engineers to address important challenges and opportunities facing humanity.

Students John Harold of Dunn, Jacob Ruesch of Lillington, Lilli Severenchuk of Asheville, Samuel Thompson of Buies Creek, Morgan Timiney of Erwin and Heidi Tusckiewicz of Whitby, Ontario will represent Campbell’s School of Engineering, which will enter its second year this fall. The School’s founding dean, Jenna Carpenter, is chair of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program, which works with universities around the world to create programs which prepare students to solve the NAE Grand Challenges through education, entrepreneurship, global awareness, service learning and research.

Carpenter said the students will be working with her to develop a Grand Challenge Scholars Program at Campbell in the upcoming academic year. She called this week’s Summit a “world-class event” that will benefit all in attendance.

“Our students will be able to network with top inventors and thinkers from across the world, engineering students from across the country and Fortune 100 employers,” Carpenter said.

For Thompson, the Summit will provide an opportunity to meet other engineering students and compare their first-year experiences. “The workshops are led by very intelligent people who are as, if not more, jazzed by this field of study as I am,” he said. “And I’ve never been to D.C., so that alone will be very cool.”

Thompson said he chose engineering as a field of study and career because he’s always enjoyed building and fixing things and solving problems. It’s a similar story for Ruesch, who wants a career that allows him to be creative in designing solutions to those problems.

“So far at Campbell, I have enjoyed learning about the field of mechanical engineering,” Ruesch said. “Our professors have allowed us to experience a hands-on approach to learning, as opposed to book learning from day one. That approach has definitely helped me learn new concepts quicker.”

As for the Summit, Ruesch said he hopes to learn a lot from renowned speakers like Greg Hyslop, senior vice president of Boeing; Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics; Michael Abrash, chief scientist for Oculus VR; Jeffrey Dean, senior fellow at Google; Wes Bush, chairman, CEO and president of Northrop Grumman; and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.

“Also, I hope the conference will present me the opportunity to develop good networking contacts for future internship and employment possibilities,” he said.