Duke receives $15 million grant to establish new engineering scholarship program

Duke received a grant to establish a new undergraduate program focused on leadership, service, business and entrepreneurship at the Pratt School of Engineering.

President Vincent Price announced the $15 million grant from the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation April 2. This endowment represents the single largest gift to Pratt in support of an undergraduate scholarship program. The A. James Clark Scholars program will work to expand engineering education and create a new generation of entrepreneurs and leaders in the field. 

“Duke University offers a transformative undergraduate experience, and the Clark Scholars program will help us open the doors even wider to those opportunities,” Price said in a press release. “We are enormously grateful for this gift, which will advance our broader commitments to create global leaders in technological and scientific discovery.”

As part of the program, Clark Scholars will engage in service-learning experiences, business courses, leadership training and one-on-one mentorship seminars throughout their time at Duke. The class will include 10 students every year chosen based on financial need, academic accomplishments, engagement in engineering and leadership skills. 

“Technology is profoundly changing the world, and engineering leaders with business savvy and entrepreneurial mindsets will undoubtedly shape our future,” said Ravi Bellamkonda, Vinik dean of engineering and professor of biomedical engineering. “The Clark Scholars program will make the outstanding opportunities at Duke Engineering more accessible to a diverse population of students.”

The program is a part of Pratt’s ongoing initiative to encourage entrepreneurship among its undergraduate students. Clark Scholars will participate in workshops and grant competitions through the Entrepreneurship at Duke Engineering program, which seeks to provide training and mentorship to faculty and students with commercial ambitions for their research and ideas. 

“[The Clark Scholars Program] will open the path for bright people to pursue entrepreneurial approaches with the potential to transform not only their lives, but the lives of others as they design solutions for the world’s greatest challenges,” Bellamkonda said.

The first cohort of Clark Scholars will be from the Class of 2022, making Duke the 10th campus nationwide with a Clark Scholars program. 

Duke joins George Washington University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania, Stevens Institute of Technology, Vanderbilt University, the University of Virginia and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 

“We are honored to partner with Duke University to establish the Clark Scholars program as part of our commitment to building the pipeline of future engineers,” said Joe Del Guercio, president and CEO of the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation, in the press release. “We are particularly excited about the entrepreneurial focus at Duke; Mr. Clark believed that the best engineers also developed strong business acumen.”


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