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members around table

Training & Mentoring

In addition to research and engagement, CIRCAD will support a number of major new education and workforce development activities, including initiatives to recruit and actively support students and post-docs from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM disciplines. Training and mentoring a diverse workforce prepared to tackle climate risk will be a central element of CIRCAD, and will be pursued through the avenues described below.

Post-Doc, Graduate and Undergraduate Research and Mentorship

We will implement a robust research training and mentorship program that is characterized by a commitment to both academic and professional development. At the core of this program will be hands-on, guided research opportunities associated with project participation. In addition to their research advisor, each trainee will be paired with an industry mentor according to the trainee’s research interests and career ambitions.

Student Team Projects

Two new programs at Duke, Design Climate and Climate+, provide an innovative context for graduate and undergraduate students from all Schools and Departments to work together on project-based teams. These program emphasize the application of design thinking, business fundamentals, product development, sustainability, and justice-centered design principles to the creation of creative climate solutions. Student teams will work with industry partners to identify needs, generate ideas, and assess the commercialization potential of their prototypes. 

Advanced Degree Programs

The Pratt School of Engineering at Duke recently launched two new Master of Engineering programs, one in Climate and Sustainability (C&S) and another in Financial Technology (FinTech). Both programs emphasize business fundamentals, the management of high-tech industries, and a professional internship component. Students in the C&S program are taught how to analyze climate challenges through the lenses of climate finance, risk assessment, the circular economy, social and environmental justice, and climate policy. Meanwhile, the FinTech program develops students’ skills in financial engineering while exposing them to the business, policy, and ethical dimensions of financial technology. Developing a strong relationship between CIRCAD and these two advanced degree programs will not only provide students with a real-world context for their coursework but will also offer industry partners a pipeline of well-prepared future employees. UGA is also actively developing new academic programs to support climate innovation. The Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems is launching a new graduate certificate program in natural infrastructure/nature-based solutions. The certificate will confirm that students have satisfied relevant requirements beyond their degree in engineering, ecology, and related fields through four additional courses focused on nature-based solutions.  There are opportunities to expand this offering to non-degree-seeking professionals who desire to develop their knowledge and skills on this topic. 

Professional Development Workshops

We are exploring the potential for Duke and UGA faculty to leverage their existing courses to offer training sessions for CIRCAD’s Industry Members. These would provide a technical assistance opportunity and could include topics such as: probabilistic programing, decision modeling, systems science, spatial data analysis, and machine learning. As a proof-of-concept, one of our participating faculty has been regularly offering short, introductory “Machine Learning Schools” during summer and term breaks that are available both in-person and online. So far, over 2,000 people, including members of both academia and industry, have participated. Through CIRCAD, we plan to build on this success, offering additional courses on topics suggested by our Industry Membership. 

Internship and Co-op Support

CIRCAD will be well-positioned to coordinate the matching of students and post-docs with limited-term employment (LTE) opportunities in our Member network. These range from CIRCAD-supported experiential learning opportunities to a more traditional Member-funded internship or co-op experience. We believe that LTEs would be beneficial in both the early stages of a research degree to align research topics with applied needs, as well as in the later stages to translate research outcomes into applied insights.

URM Fellowship and Support Program

As part of our DEI plan, we will build a cross-institutional fellowship program to recruit and provide additional support structures for underrepresented students at all levels interested in research and education associated with CIRCAD. While the details of this program will be developed during the planning process, we anticipate modeling the program on Duke’s existing University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM). With support from the Sloan Foundation and the Provost’s Office, UCEM works to expand Duke’s ability to attract, retain, and graduate doctoral students from underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. We will work closely with UCEM to design a program distinctive to CIRCAD. We seek to develop a Center that promotes an equitable and inclusive academic and social environment in which historically underrepresented participants can thrive and all individuals feel valued and included. This means having fair access to opportunities and resources and being full participants and contributors to the Center’s mission, regardless of background or identity.