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Students Earn More than $7K at Grand Challenge Scholars Program Fall Pitch Event

November 05, 2021

Six engineering students earned a total of $7,500 during the sixth annual Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) Pitch Event last week!

Winners are: Connor Braase, electrical engineering; Joe Dekold, mechanical engineering, Sebastian Garcia, mechanical engineering; Alyssa Hansten, biological engineering; Bishal Thapa, biological engineering; and Rafael Whynman, mechanical engineering.

Hansten, Thapa and Whynman were named this year’s DeVlieg Scholars, funded by Charles B. DeVlieg, Charles R. DeVlieg and the DeVlieg Foundation to promote educational experiences with emphasis in science, engineering, renewable energy and preservation of natural resources.

Garcia was named the Richard T and Bonnie L. Jacobsen Scholar, established in honor of late U of I College of Engineering alumnus, professor, chair and dean Richard Jacobsen. The scholar program helps fund mechanical engineering students engaging in faculty research.

Joe DeKold is the Gary Dau Scholar. Established in memory of 1956 alumnus Gary Dau, the program helps students pursue creative problem-solving and gain skills to approach engineering challenges with innovative thinking.

The GCSP is the only undergraduate program of its kind in Idaho, preparing students to solve the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering in the 21st Century as established by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Students pitch their challenge projects to an assembly of judges made up of faculty, alumni and members of the U of I Academy of Engineers to secure funding for their ideas. Funding is provided through donor support. View student portfolios.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at


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