How do I become a GFX Scholar?
GFX Scholars are chosen based on their regular applications to the University of Illinois. No additional action is required!
What is the benefit of being a GFX Scholar?
The GFX Scholars program is a great opportunity to gain valuable real-world experience during your first year of college. While most of your first-year classes will be general technical courses, the GFX Scholars courses are designed to help you gain experience, build your resume, and build community with other freshmen engineers in a smaller classroom setting. For example, Projects Scholars will work on hands-on design projects that allow them to build their teamwork skills and put their technical skills into practice. In each cohort, you'll learn valuable skills that go beyond your technical courses and help you develop as an engineer.
Can I be in more than one of the programs?
To ensure that as many incoming freshmen engineers as possible can take advantage of this scholars program, we can only accept students to one program each.
How much of a time commitment will my GFX Scholars course require?
The GFX Scholars courses are 1-2 credit hours, so they are low-stress and don't take too much time out of your schedule. Classes typically meet once a week for about 10 weeks of the semester, and work outside of the classroom consists of either a semester-long project or short homework assignments that will be used for in-class discussion. Either way, students find the workload to be very manageable and really look forward to the class meetings every week. Beyond the regular class meetings and coursework, there are no additional time commitments as part of the GFX Scholars program.
How difficult are the GFX Scholars courses? Will they have a strong impact on my GPA?
The main focus of these courses is the experience, rather than the grade. As such, the coursework is much more engaging and interactive than your typical first-year technical classes. If you participate actively in your course and are engaged in class, you can expect to do well in the course!
Is there an extra cost associated with any of the programs?
There is no extra cost to be a part of GFX! In fact, if you participate actively in your scholars course for both semesters of your freshman year, you'll receive a $1,500 scholarship. If you’re a Global Sustainability Scholar or a Global Disaster Resilience Scholar, there is an extra cost associated with going on the trip. However, there are plenty of scholarships available to help you finance your trip. All students automatically qualify for one $500 scholarship through the International Programs in Engineering office, and there are many additional scholarships you can apply for as well. Don't let the financial aspect of the trip hold you back from participating! If you're still concerned about financing the trip, your instructors can help you explore other resources.
Is there a final exam?
There are no formal final exams for these courses. Instead, you'll be asked to write a short paper or report to reflect on what you learned in the course. These assignments once again place a higher focus on the real-world experience gained in the course, rather than placing the focus on the grade.
If I am chosen as a Global Sustainability or Global Disaster Resilience Scholar, is it recommended that I know Spanish?
While it is certainly helpful to have some familiarity with Spanish, it is definitely not required. Students in the program previously have come in with all different levels of experience with the language; some are fluent and others have never spoken it before. Either way, communication happens. The host families are experienced at communicating with students who don’t have much experience with Spanish, so they are very understanding and patient. Using hand gestures and google translate will also come in handy. Overall, don’t stress about being able to communicate. You’d be surprised about how easy it is to communicate and build connections without speaking the same language!
What is it like to stay with host families on the Global Sustainability Scholars trip? Will I be staying with other students?
You’ll stay with a host family individually. This might seem daunting at first, but don’t worry! Many of the hosts are relatives (for example, your host mom might be cousins with another student’s host mom), so students in these host families will often eat meals and spend time together. Additionally, you’ll be located near a few other students so you always have a group to walk with to the meeting place each day.
Staying with a host family individually is an incredibly rewarding experience because it is very immersive and will help you to form strong connections with that family. It might be a bit intimidating at first, but the families are very kind and welcoming, and many students still keep in touch with their host families after the trip!