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Grand Challenge

Grant Spotlight: Holistic Foundry Undergraduate Engaged Learners (FUEL) Program

FUEL grant graphicRural Reimagined congratulates PIs and Co-Directors Dr. Andrea Arce-Trigatti (Curriculum and Instruction), Dr. Stephanie N. Jorgensen (Chemical Engineering), Mr. Michael Aikens (Rural Reimagined/TCRI), Dr. J. Robby Sanders (Chemical Engineering), and Dr. Pedro E. Arce (Chemical Engineering) for receiving the Holistic Foundry Undergraduate Engaged Learners (FUEL) program grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). The FUEL program uses the Renaissance Foundry Model, an innovation-driven pedagogical engine, coupled with the Rural Reimagined Grand Challenge initiative at TN Tech, to provide students with an opportunity to transform learning towards the development of skills associated with holistic engineers.  

The program’s purpose is to provide inclusive and comprehensive training to diverse populations in engineering that will help them develop learning strategies aligned with those of holistic engineers useful for their academic career through the development of a student-team research project. Regarding the core platform which uses the Renaissance Foundry Model, Dr. Arce states, “We are excited to be leveraging the Foundry as a central guiding tool towards meeting this program’s objectives to develop students as holistic learners.” Dr. Jorgensen supports this by indicating, “This pedagogical engine has been a useful tool in the classroom setting as revealed by increases in students’ critical thinking skills. We are very excited to see a larger application of this effective tool to enhance student learning in this extracurricular context.”  

Holistic engineers are trained within an approach that emphasizes contextualized problem formulation and encourages innovative solutions to complex social challenges. Dr. Sanders says the following about holistic engineers, “Given the complexity of the challenges facing society today, the development of professionals with strong content knowledge and the ability to work within and across disciplines represents an important goal for facilitators of learning to help students develop these skills for their careers.”  

Program objectives align with Rural Reimagined, with the expectation that the research projects will have ties to participants’ hometowns via outreach activities in partnership with Mr. Carlos Galindo and the Science Olympiad Collegiate Scholars program. Regarding the FUEL program, and associated collaborations, Dr. Arce-Trigatti states, “This is a passionate, interdisciplinary team that cares deeply about students’ holistic development and growth. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share the Foundry Model in various contexts to help foster student learning and fuel growth through the training offered in this program.” Mr. Aikens shares, “The FUEL grant is in the true spirit of what Rural Reimagined is all about. I am very excited to see how this represents one more example of the way in which TN Tech will serve rural areas and under-served populations, and I can’t wait to see its impacts.” Wings up! 

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