For me, being a Gates Scholar is a gift to become great so that you can help others become great.

Reginald Nelson '19

"I decided to major in markets, innovation & design (MIDE) during the second semester of my junior year. Until I discovered MIDE, I didn't realize that I could major in the things I think about every day.

"The MIDE major is flexible, so you have to hone different skills to succeed. I had to figure out what kinds of opportunities were available and push myself to the extreme.

"In the MIDE major, creativity and innovation — in every form — are appreciated. Right now, I'm working with four people on a kit for multivariable calculus instructors. The course material is 3-D-based, so if a professor can't draw a 3-D shape and then show it sliced in half, for example, it's going to be difficult for students to understand the concepts. We're creating manipulable, physical tools that represent three-dimensional equations, to be marketed to schools. We've done the research, and if we do this — and do it right — we could be the only people out there with this type of product.

"My central focus in MIDE is understanding people. With regard to the kit, it's my job to understand how different stimuli affect people. The size of the product, the color, the material — how do these factors affect the user? I look at the product from the calculus instructor's perspective. I'm also studying anthropology, because, if you don't understand people, how can you solve problems?

"When I came to Bucknell as a Gates Millennium Scholar, I wanted skills that would make me successful in my career. Now I'm looking at building the fundamentals. MIDE professors want to give you actual tools that you can use. The major takes something that seems impossible — to be a Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg — and makes it seem practical.

"We also talk about social impact, all the time. We talk about environmental impact, all the time. The central message is that we're not just to use our intelligence to solve problems and make money, but to solve problems and make change."

Reginald is from Philadelphia.

Posted Oct. 8, 2017

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