Vest Scholars

Charles Vest Portrait

Charles M. Vest NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering International Scholarships

The Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University is one of 10 universities in the United States establishing Vest Scholarships at their institutions. This scholarship program, endorsed by the National Academy of Engineers and the U.K.'s Royal Academy of Engineering and named after former NAE President Charles M. Vest, will foster international collaborations among graduate students whose studies are focused on tackling some of the world's biggest challenges. Vest, who earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from WVU in 1963, passed away in 2013.

WVU and the other participating universities will host Vest Scholars for one expense-paid year to pursue research opportunities related to the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering, 14 "game-changing" goals that address global issues in order to improve life in the 21st century. At WVU, Vest Scholars may research a number of these challenges:

Develop carbon sequestration methods

Carbon capture, utilization and sequestration efforts in the Statler College include development of steady-state and dynamic models of sorbent-based and solvent-based CO2 capture processes. These are being developed under the auspices of the United States Department of Energy's Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative. Uncertainties due to input, output and model-form are being quantified. Researchers at WVU are working with DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Other research themes include application of artificial intelligence and data mining techniques for modeling of geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, development of low-cost solid- and membrane-based adsorbents, numerical modeling and field monitoring of CO2 injection during geological sequestration.

Provide Access to Clean Drinking Water

Research efforts in the Statler College include but are not limited to water treatment, hazardous waste and emerging contaminants remediation, bacterial source tracking of contaminants in water, surface hydrology, multi-phase flow in vadose and saturated zones, nonpoint source pollution, development of technologies to deal with wastewater resulting from acid mine drainage as well as hydraulic fracturing and other industrial processes. In addition, researchers at WVU are also investigating the role of large-scale hydro-climatological processes on outbreak of water-related diseases and prediction of these diseases. Development of nano/bio sensors for detection/monitoring of contaminants is also an area of active research.

Restore and improve urban infrastructure

Researchers in the Statler College are involved in many areas concerning the development of novel composites and other materials for a sustainable infrastructure. The Center for Integration of Composites into Infrastructure is a National Science Foundation-funded industry/university cooperative research center focused on ushering applications of fiber-based and other composites in both civil and military infrastructures. Other themes related to restoration and improvement of urban infrastructure include advanced analysis and field evaluation of structural components, bridge substructures, geotechnical engineering including unsaturated soil mechanics and energy geotechnics, geoenvironmental engineering, construction planning, construction safety, advanced technologies for transportation systems and uncertainty in transportation networks. WVU researchers are also engaged in the areas of sustainable construction techniques and infrastructure planning as well as pavement design, materials and management systems.

Secure cyberspace

Researchers in the Statler College are involved in research related to cyber security, with a focus on enhancing cybersecurity through biometrics-related research as well as identity management technologies. The Statler College is part of the Center for Identification Technology Research, which is a National Science Foundation-funded industry/university cooperative research center focused on biometrics. Specific research projects include analysis of fingerprint images, neural net fingerprint matching, image and video processing, computer vision, smart cards and hyperspectral imaging. Another area of interest is data mining with a focus on internet security; challenges include malware detection and phishing website detection.

WVU will accept applications from students currently enrolled at the institutions that participated in the 2013 Global Grand Challenges Summit held in London. In future years, the program will be expanded to additional institutions.

Other participating schools are Duke University, California Institute of Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology, MIT, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, Olin College, the University of Southern California and the University of Washington.

Additional details about the Vest Scholarships and application requirements can be found at