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TTU Award $3M Grant For Rural Community Problem-Identifying Research

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
TTU Award $3M Grant For Rural Community Problem-Identifying Research

Tennessee Tech has been awarded a $3 million research grant by the National Science Foundation.

The funding will help graduate and post-graduate students to identify issues at the intersection of food, energy, and water areas that they want to help solve. Chemical Engineer Professor Dr. Pedro Arce said this will be in conjunction with rural, Appalachian, or tribal communities.

“Maybe they need a clean type of water to really go help crops or things like that,” Arce said. “And that’s a problem that by using technology to supply that clean water that they needed, that crop will be much better, more efficient, and they will benefit from the improvements of these conditions.”

Arce said there is a wide variety of problems to address, but will only be identified by students after fostering relationships with those communities. He said the grant funds a five-year program, the first of which students have spent making those connections.

Arce said this comes at the end of an almost 10-year process that started with a desire to develop a new professionalism, particularly in the STEM field, that is more responsible when it comes to current societal challenges.

“We thought that using that model and the idea of community working, taking with permission from our Cherokee tribal community, ‘Gadugi,’” Arce said. “Which means working as a community for community.’”

Arce said a majority of the funding goes to helping cover student costs.


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