College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Graduates celebrate major milestone for Next Engineers: Engineering Academy Greenville


Putting on a cap and gown to accept a diploma is a special time for any student, but for 49 graduates from 24 high schools across the Upstate, there was something more to celebrate this year, thanks to a partnership between Clemson University and GE Vernova.

The first group of participants to graduate from Next Engineers: Engineering Academy Greenville pose for a picture at their graduation ceremony.

The students were the first group of participants from Next Engineers: Engineering Academy Greenville to graduate high school. Each student who completes the academy and enrolls in a qualified engineering or engineering-related degree program is eligible for a $20,000 scholarship.

Clemson’s PEER & WISE program teamed up with GE Vernova in 2021 to launch the academy to increase the diversity of young people in engineering.

The students have shown remarkable determination. Of the 54 students who initially enrolled in Engineering Academy Greenville, a remarkable 93% completed the program.

Altogether, the Engineering Academy Greenville graduates have earned about $820,000 in scholarships toward engineering degrees in higher education.

John Intile, vice president, Engineering GE Vernova Gas Power, told the graduates that they carry the legacy of Next Engineers and that they are part of a lineage going back to GE’s founder, Thomas Edison

“Your canvas is broader, your tools more advanced,” he said. “You’ll build bridges that connect continents, design sustainable energy systems, and perhaps even send humans to Mars. As you step into this vast universe of possibilities, remember that you’re not alone. The GE Vernova family stands with you. We believe in your potential, your audacity and your ability to change the trajectory of humanity.”

The graduates have learned from GE Vernova volunteers and participated in about 200 hours of activities ranging from building water filtration systems to testing prototype helmets. They have practiced presenting their designs to peers and professional engineers and learned skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and communication.

Serita Acker, the executive director of PEER & WISE, said that the skills and knowledge students have received have laid a strong foundation.

Serita Acker

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to each and every graduate,” she said. “Their commitment and hard work inspires us all, and I have every confidence they will continue to make a positive impact in the field of engineering and beyond.

“I also want to express my sincere gratitude to GE Vernova for their unwavering support and partnership throughout this journey. Together, with the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences faculty, staff and current students, we have laid the groundwork for a brighter future in engineering, and I am excited to see the continued success of Next Engineers in empowering young minds.”

The Next Engineers: Engineering Academy is a transformative learning experience designed for students aged 15 to 18. Through a rigorous curriculum, immersive design challenges, and career coaching, participants learn to think and act like engineers.

Greenville, South Carolina was among the first four locations to launch Next Engineers, with a $5M investment from the GE Foundation in 2021. To date, Next Engineers, which also includes middle school programming, has reached more than 4,600 students across the Upstate.

The program aims to equip youth with the skills they need to build an engineering identity and pursue successful careers in engineering fields.

Key program highlights include:

Dedication: The Engineering Academy spans three years, with students dedicating 220 hours outside of regular school hours to participate.

Design Challenges: In small teams, students tackle increasingly complex design challenges, mastering the engineering design process.

Foundational Skills: Beyond technical knowledge, students develop essential skills such as communication, teamwork, persistence, time management, and presentation abilities.

Education and Career Exploration: Workshops and activities prepare students for their next steps, including university campus tours and interactions with GE Vernova volunteers.

Scholarships: Students who complete the program and enroll in post-secondary engineering degree programs receive partial scholarships from the GE Foundation.

The graduates and their high schools are:

Viktor Verduzco – Berea High School
Cynthia Gama – Carolina High School
Whitt Davis – Christ Church Episcopal School
Unique Willingham – Crescent High School
Hadley Medeiros – D.W. Daniel High School
Andrew Mogge – D.W. Daniel High School
Samuel Pilgrim – D.W. Daniel High School
Peter Liu – D.W. Daniel High School
Mia Victoria Berger – D.W. Daniel High School
Alba Stavre – D.W. Daniel High School
Connor Hamby – Easley High School
Vicky Wen – Easley High School
Samadrian Mayes – Easley High School
Emily Jackson – Eastside High School
Megan Mcgovern – First Presbyterian Academy
Geneva Brannon – Greenville High School
William Law – Greenville High School
Grace Taylor – Greenville High School
Kaela Cummings – Greenville High School
Holden Margeson – Greenville Tech Charter High School
Abdullah Ahmad – Greenville Tech Charter High School
Andrew Yang – J.L. Mann
Will Kyzer – J.L. Mann
Kunal Bakre – J.L. Mann
Sebastian Martinez-Montes – Legacy Early College High School
Juan Leon – Legacy Early College High School
Faviola Millan – Maudlin High School
Evan Helvey – Mauldin High School
Emory Burkett – Palmetto High School
Ethan Garrett – Pickens High
Chloe Qubti – Powdersville High School
Emaline Kay – Powdersville High School
Sabine Coen – Riverside High School
Wiktor Zukowski – Riverside High School
Cody Yingling – Riverside High School
Avery Brown – Riverside High School
Zamora Pauling – Southside High School
Sinceare Jackson – Southside High School
James Myers – Spartanburg Day school
Remi Witt – T.L. Hanna High School
Francis Baxley – Wade Hampton High School
Hunter Dodson – Westside High School
Kyla Wood – Westside High School
Olivia Hawkins – Westside High School
Samuel Harris – Woodmont High School
Khushi Mejare – Woodmont High School
Ethan Horton – Woodruff High School
Cody Rop – Wren High School
David Wilson – Wren High School

Next Engineers is not the only way GE Vernova has committed to producing the next generation of STEM talent. The GE John Lammas Annual Scholarship provides $8,000 scholarships to underrepresented students majoring in general engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering, computer information systems, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering.

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