Engineering a Brighter Future

Headshot of a man

The future of the human race depends on a shift to clean energy, according to Angelo Giles, a junior in UIC’s College of Engineering. “Within five years, we’ll be at a point of no return. We will have risen the temperature of Earth by 1.4 degrees Celsius. That’s the reality of the situation,” he says. “Nuclear energy is expensive, but if there’s a way to optimize it, I think it will be the future of energy for the human race. I want to be at the forefront of that process.”

Giles is studying chemical engineering with the help of the President’s Award Program, the most prestigious scholarship offered by the University of Illinois Chicago. He is serious about using this opportunity not just to secure his own financial success, but also to help save the planet for future generations.

Giles is a formidable student. In his senior year of high school, he received acceptance letters from several universities, but the President’s Award helped bring him to UIC. The program provided access to the Summer College and First-Year Experience along with special opportunities such as undergraduate research, study abroad, specialized seminars and career and graduate or professional school preparation.

In the College of Engineering, the President’s Award is part of the Equity and Inclusion in Engineering Program, which promotes professionalism, academic excellence and fellowship among students who feel underrepresented in the field. With the support of College of Engineering Dean Peter Nelson and UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis, the program continues to build on its nearly 30-year history, according to Gerry Smith, director of minority affairs for the college. “The program is vital to the balance of diversity. There is no majority in the college,” says Smith.

As a Black teen living in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, Giles is determined to rise above the circumstances surrounding him. “Income in Englewood is so low, most people don’t even think about going to college,” Giles notes. He credits his mother and his grandfather’s influence in helping him get where he is. Giles says his grandfather taught him to exceed others’ expectations, and “If you’re not five minutes early, you’re late.”

In his time at UIC, Smith has seen students like Giles go on to work at Fortune 100 companies and succeed in their careers and lives. And when Giles achieves his ambitions, the whole world will share in his success.