Two Tufts students join Draper Scholars Program

Emmett Lepp and Tim Cheng embark on their research with the Draper Scholars Program.
exterior view of the science and engineering complex at Tufts University

PhD candidate Tim Cheng and MS student Emmett Lepp, both of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Tufts, were recently accepted to the Draper Scholars Program, converging academic research with industrial pursuits. This year marks the 50th year of the collaborative initiative which pairs students with technical experts from Draper Laboratory and faculty advisors from member universities as they engage in graduate and PhD research. Students must be from one of 11 participating universities to be eligible to participate in this selective program. Cheng and Lepp were two of the 40 emerging scholars pursuing master's and PhD degrees in the program.

Within this framework, scholars collaborate closely with their supervisors to delve into research within technical domains that mutually benefit the academic institution and Draper Labs. The overarching objective of the program is to cultivate a pathway for passionate students across the nation who are eager about the prospects of engineering, science, and technology. Ultimately, this initiative aims to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed for a prosperous career in their chosen fields.

Cheng earned his master’s in mechanical engineering at Tufts and is currently pursuing a PhD in mechanical engineering. His research focuses on material science and he works under the supervision of Associate Professor Robert White of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Kasia Oleske of Draper Laboratory. Cheng’s research will benefit from lab equipment and infrastructure at both Draper and Tufts, including the Tufts Micro- and Nano-Fabrication Facility, which White founded in 2007. Lepp is a master’s student in mechanical engineering and will be developing models of human systems in the mechanical engineering department under the supervision of Tiffany DiNota of Draper Labs. 

Draper Labs is a nonprofit engineering company focused on advancing technology at the intersection of government, academia, and industry. Last year, two Tufts students from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Peter Hsi and Erin Shaughnessey, participated in the Draper Scholars program. As Cheng and Lepp begin their work with the Draper Scholars Program, their endeavors point to the benefits of Tufts’ industry connections. Through the program, Draper and Tufts hope to foster a new generation of visionary leaders in the critical fields of engineering, science, and technology.