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Jin Lee

First class graduates from Grand Challenges Scholars programApril 13, 2020

This past September, McMaster University launched the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP), the first of its kind in Canada.

The GCSP is an experiential learning initiative that spans across students' entire undergraduate careers and supports the commitment to educate future leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs who have global perspectives and social awareness. 

Over the past year, 12 students completed the program, including nine engineering students, and are now Canada’s first GCSP recipients. 

Lacey Wice and Vincent Popovich are two recipients of the grand challenges scholar program this year and are also the valedictorians for the engineering graduating class of 2020. 

“An engineer is truly defined by their desire to learn more – to push the envelope of what is expected of them. This program recognizes those students who innovate, lead and inspire, which are attributes that have always been important to me,” said Wice.

Students developed a portfolio that documented their journey through the program, including enrolling in enriching courses, reflecting on experiences from their undergraduate journeys, and completing an ACTIVE project, which is experiential-based.

ACTIVE projects, which stands for, Attainable, Cultural, Technical, Impactful, Viable, and Experiential, allows students to immerse themselves in a self-directed experience that has a lasting impact in their community.

Students can choose to complete this on their own, or by enrolling in the MacChangers program, which strives to prepare students for the challenges the world currently faces, and will face in the coming years. Over 80 students completed the MacChangers program this year.   

“This level of community engagement has been rare in my degree, and the communication skills I have gained out of MacChangers are applicable in any project I do now that involves stakeholder engagement,” said Elizabeth DaMaren, a fourth-year Mechatronics Engineering and Society student who completed the MacChangers program as well as the GCSP.

“It is a great honour to be recognizing Canada’s first Grand Challenges Scholars," said McMaster’s Dean of Engineering, Ishwar Puri. "We must broaden the idea that engineers and others have to work together.”

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program spans an undergraduate student's degree (3- 5 year program) and students can apply for entry into the program in their penultimate year. The Program is open to students from all faculties at McMaster University and has no cost for enrollment. 

To learn more about the program visit this website 

Watch an Instagram Takeover on the @mcmastereng account featuring graduates of the program on April 15, 2020. 

Canada’s First Grand Challenges Scholars are:

Abigail Hudecki - Arts & Science and Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour

Alex Bak - Honours Health Sciences

Alexi Michael - Honours Health Sciences

Arujala Thavendrarasa - Chemical Engineering & Society 

Colleen Jenkins - Mechanical Engineering

David Kovacs - Civil Engineering & Society 

Elizabeth DaMaren - Mechatronics Engineering & Society

Fanny Poon - Materials Engineering & Society

Kerianne Hagan - Civil Engineering

Lacey Wice - Mechanical Engineering & Society

Linford Rodrigues - Electrical Engineering & Society

Vincent Popovich - Materials Engineering & Society