Clark Scholars Program

A Model for Student-Centric Education

Program Overview

The UVA Clark Scholars Program represents a new model for education within the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science. While this model is focused on creating engineering leaders for the 21st Century, to ensure its success this model must also align with the broader mission, vision and core values of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Building from these school-wide foundations, the Clark Scholars Program is committed to helping each of our Scholars fulfill the mission and program objectives throughout their four years at UVA. This commitment includes foundational academic support and the design and implementation of programmatic activities associated with the core pillars of the program: Business Acumen, Service Collaboration, Leadership Development, and Global Engagement.

Students selected as Clark Scholars participate in 4 years of programming aimed at enhancing their engineering training. Students are challenged and supported throughout the program, with a Year 1 summer program (summer prior to 1st year), Year 2 global experience, Year 3 certification in business fundamentals, and a Year 4 service capstone. Throughout their academic journey, scholars are encouraged  to integrate leadership and service activities in their 4-year plan, engage with academic and industry leaders, participate in undergraduate research opportunities, and seek out industry internships. The Clark Scholars Program Leadership team, with support from our Faculty Champions, is committed to helping Scholars meet program requirements and fullfil their career goals.

This is an amazing opportunity that I don’t take for granted. Without it, I don’t know what my future would have looked like.


1st Year Summer Program and Sustained Academic Support

Each cohort will participate in a six-week summer intensive program preceding their formal matriculation. The summer program is a requirement of incoming Clark Scholars and includes a cohort retreat that will focus on transitioning to college, self-efficacy, resilience, mindfulness and building Clark Scholar community. Clark Scholars spend the following six weeks engaged in small section academic study, including their first course in Calculus and Introduction to Engineering. These courses will help all students build a strong foundation for academic success ahead of the traditional fall semester.

For the summer, two courses will be offered including Introduction to Engineering (ENGR 1624) and one of two math course options of the introductory sequence of calculus in Applied Mathematics (APMA 1090 or 1110). Scholars will be place in one of the two APMA options based on an APMA Placement Test given before the start of the summer.

  • Math course option 1: In this course, functions of a single variable are studied from the viewpoint of Calculus. Limits, derivatives, and integrals are defined and used to explore the behavior of algebraic, trigonometric, and transcendental functions. This course emphasizes the applications to science and engineering.  Some of the applications include Approximation Techniques, Optimization, Related Rates of Change, and Rectilinear Motion. An additional goal of the course is to strengthen the mathematical communication skills of the student, both written and verbal.
  • Math course option 2: In this course, advanced techniques of integration are introduced, including integration by parts, trigonometric substitution, and the method of partial fractions. Techniques of integration are then used in physics applications like fluid force, work, and center of mass. Improper integrals and approximate integration using Simpson’s Rule are also studied.  The nature of infinite series including power series and Taylor and Maclaurin series are studied.  Numerical methods involving Taylor polynomials are used. Parametric equations and polar coordinates are introduced and applied.  Finally, complex coordinates and their relationship through Euler’s Formula to polar coordinates and Taylor series are introduced. An additional goal of the course is to strengthen the mathematical communication skills of the student, both written and verbal.

Beyond the summer program, academic enrichment and support remain essential components of the Clark Scholars Program at UVA. The program maintains a vision for Clark Scholars to graduate with a 3.4+ GPA on average and provides support and resources to help Scholars reach this goal. This support includes on-demand tutoring, faculty mentoring, peer mentoring, academic preparation, and coaching. In addition to the recurring support, Scholars participate in a 6-week Bridge Program in the summer prior to their first academic semester at UVA. 

Four Pillars of the Clark Scholar Experience

The Clark Scholars Program is the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation’s signature academic program, combining engineering, business, leadership, a global experience and community service. The UVA Clark Scholar Experience is built on a foundation of academic success and preparation of our Clark Scholars for careers as 21st Century engineers and leaders. This preparation includes a focus on four core program pillars:

  • Global Engagement
  • Business Acumen
  • Leadership Development
  • Service Collaboration

Faculty Champions

The University of Virginia Clark Scholars program emphasizes fostering community and a sense of belonging within a cohort-based model, and intentional enhancement to the traditional UVA Engineering training that will prepare our Scholars for the future of engineering innovation. We believe that faculty play a critical role in this development model, as a students’ primary motivations often informed or guided by their academic discipline and faculty and staff within these academic areas have valuable knowledge and insights built from their career experiences in their discipline. Student-faculty interaction is known to contribute to the positive educational outcomes and experiences of a student during their academic career. Building from this foundation, the Clark Scholars Program has create a model for Faculty Champions within the School of Engineering and Applied Science to support Clark Scholars in their respective disciplines.

Our vision of the Faculty Champions model is built on the idea that faculty main unique insights in the academic preparation, career development, and future pathways within their academic disciplines that often go unrealized by undergraduate students. We also recognize that the student-faculty power structure creates an artificial barrier for students to gain access to these valuable insights. This is particularly true for students from diverse backgrounds, who often do not have the same level of comfort of confidence to engage with faculty in informal environments. With the Clark Scholars Faculty Champions model, we seek to strengthen the support network of the Clark Scholars by creating intentional engagement opportunities and a more holistic support network rooted in the academic departments. These engagements are realized in different forms, but Faculty Champions are tasked with helping Clark Scholars gain a sense of community, connection, and support within their academic department that extends beyond the classroom.

Home of the Clark Scholars Program

The Clark Scholars Program maintains a homebase within the Center for Diversity in Engineering (CDE) - Thornton Hall D111 and D112. The CDE includes an open study area, event space, and staff members on site. The Center exists to connect students with the academic, financial, health, and community resources they need to thrive both at UVA and in the world. The CDE advocates for all students by connecting them with people and resources, but also by working to create a positive culture within the university. These goals and values align naturally with the Clark Scholars Program and provide Scholars with a space to connect with broader engineering community.

Questions? Comments?

Keith Williams

Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Clark Scholars Faculty Director

Williams' completed my Ph.D. in materials physics at Penn State University in 2001, and undertook postdoctoral research in the Molecular Biophysics Group at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, thereafter establishing a nanophysics laboratory in the physics department at the University of Virginia. 

Alicia Cowan-Brown

Clark Scholars Program Coordinator

Alicia joined the Clark Scholars Program in 2022 as the Program Coordinator. Her responsibilities include program implementation, scholar engagement, and collaborating with various partners to improve the Engineering student experience.