By Stephanie Wonchala
Engineering students looking for extra cash and real-world work experience need not look further.
The third annual Dr. Alex Hills Engineering & Civic Engagement Award application period is now open. The award encourages one lucky UAA undergraduate to partner with a community organization and apply their engineering skills.
2009 award recipient Garret Yager’s project addressed the high concentration of suspended sediment in Little Campbell Creek. Yager found sediment transport to be a particularly interesting topic and worked alongside faculty member Dr. Thomas Ravens to restore ecological function.
“You can direct your own research project, whereas most research is conducted under the direction of a professor or graduate student,” said Yager. “If students have any desire to pursue higher education in engineering, it is critical that they are involved in research.”
Dr. Alex Hills, long-time Alaskan and professor at Carnegie Mellon University and UAA donates the award because of its enormous benefits. Recipients gain meaningful experience working with faculty on what can be the first major engineering project of their careers. The project’s non-profit clients gain engineering services.
To apply, students must prepare a proposal in cooperation with a faculty member who will oversee the project. A client organization must be identified which would also provide executive oversight.
“I had to do some initial research in order to craft my proposal,” said Yager. “I believe it’s very important to write a good proposal. Not only will it help you win the award, but good background research can also be used in writing the final report.”
Potential projects range from developing a hydroelectric sustainable energy research station in Girdwood to joining forces with UAA’s Engineers without Borders on international projects. “Find a research topic you are passionate about and the rest will take care of itself,” Yager said.
Yager walked away from his learning experience with the award, a tuition waiver and research stipend for graduate school, and a graduate research position offer.
Dr. Alex Hills award applications are due to UAA’s Center for Community Engagement & Learning (CCEL) on November 23rd. For more information about the award, visit www.uaa.alaska.edu/engage. Questions should be directed to Dr. Judith Owens-Manley of CCEL.
*To learn more about award donor Dr. Alex Hills, watch him speak on "The New Young Professionals" here.