Emerging Leaders at the Intersection of Engineering and Entrepreneurship

7/11 Pratt School of Engineering

Clark Scholars Program at Duke selects 10 incoming students each year for a curriculum focused on leadership, service, and business and entrepreneurship

The inaugural cohort of 10 Clark Scholars handpicked from six separate states across the country.
Emerging Leaders at the Intersection of Engineering and Entrepreneurship

Duke University received $15 million from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation to establish a new program focused on leadership, service, business and entrepreneurship at the Pratt School of Engineering. This endowment is the single largest gift to Duke Engineering for an undergraduate scholarship program. Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Vinik Dean of Engineering at Duke, supports the view of the Clark Foundation, remarking that, “Technology is profoundly changing the world, and engineering leaders with business savvy and entrepreneurial mindsets will undoubtedly shape our future.”

The A. James Clark Scholars Program is a signature component of Duke Engineering’s initiative to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset among all its undergraduate students. Ten promising students will be selected each year based on financial need, academic accomplishments, engagement in engineering and leadership skills. Throughout their undergraduate experience, each Clark Scholar will receive financial support to help offset loans, work-study and summer requirements. This will allow them time and freedom to participate in unpaid service, extracurricular activities, internships and the creation of their own startup. They will receive one-on-one mentorship, access to business courses and leadership training, and a focused summer program in entrepreneurship and management.

The First Class of Clark Scholars

Arriving on campus for a full pre-orientation week, the Clark Scholars began the Duke experience with workshops on learning and practicing resiliency, a necessary skill for both engineering and entrepreneurial ventures. Training continued with team-bonding exercises and personality tests, helping the students to become aware of the strengths that they can apply when working in team environments.

“College is a time for personal growth and development—practicing the resiliency lessons we learned really helps. These are some of my best friends now. We eat together, we study together, we hang out together; it’s everything I could’ve imagined,” said Filip Bartel, one of the inaugural Clark Scholars.

The students unanimously agreed the first week was an amazing opportunity, making them feel like a family and setting the stage for a great college experience.

Bill Walker, the Mattson Family Director of Entrepreneurship at Duke Engineering, and Steven McClelland, executive-in-residence in the Pratt School of Engineering, are leading this initiative as part of their involvement in all of Duke’s entrepreneurial engineering efforts. Alumni of Duke Engineering themselves, they over 40 combined years of work experience in technology companies. They maintain a mindset of creating leaders who transform and better the lives of others.

“They’re approachable, caring, knowledgeable and intelligent. There aren’t enough positive adjectives to describe them,” said Clark Scholar Hosam Tagel-Din.

The Clark Scholars Program honors the values of A. James Clark, a successful engineer, businessman and philanthropist. Duke University joins the Clark Scholars network including The George Washington University, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins University, The University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania, Stevens Institute of Technology, Vanderbilt University, The University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

“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 & Alice B. Clark Foundation.

Duke alumna Courtney Clark Pastrick ’77, board chairman of the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, noted that she is particularly proud to have Duke University become a member of the Clark Scholars network. “My dad always talked about the transformative impact a scholarship had on his life. At the Foundation, we want to ensure that generations of students are not limited by their financial status but propelled by their potential and promise,” she said.

The cohort will begin their first community service project together in the spring. With their newly formed network and connections at Duke, they plan to inspire others to give back.

“These students truly embody Duke’s ‘outrageous ambitions’ to take on humanity’s greatest challenges, and we are excited to welcome them to Duke and to the Pratt School of Engineering,” Bellamkonda concluded.

Scholar bios can be found at clarkscholars.duke.edu/scholars. Visit the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation at clarkfoundationdc.org.

Philip Liu is a first-year student double majoring in mechanical engineering and economics.