(Clockwise from top left) Birch Foley, Joe Malone, Nela Riddle, and Kyla Peter
A Bloomington native who plays the viola.
A woman from the Indiana-Kentucky border with a passion for solving problems through data science.
A Columbus North High School grad who fell in love with computer science as a young girl.
A Fishers, Indiana man who wants to use artificial intelligence to improve human life.
The 2021 cohort of Luddy Scholars at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering come from a variety of backgrounds with a wide range of perspectives, but they share the same dream of using technology to make a difference in the world.
“Our Luddy Scholars are well-educated students with a variety of interests going well beyond the immediate technical field they are pursuing,” says Esfandiar Haghverdi, executive associate dean for undergraduate education who teaches an exclusive class for the Luddy Scholars. “As always, we paid special attention to the wholistic aspects of students in our selection process, and it is no surprise that they have delivered.”
The Luddy Scholars program, funded by part of a transformative, $60 million gift from Fred Luddy in 2019, is awarded to high-achieving students from the state of Indiana and provides exclusive opportunities for students to interact with tech leaders, faculty, and alumni to help them on their career path. The 2021 recipients of the scholarship include Bloomington’s Birch Foley, Fishers’ Joseph Malone, Lamar, Indiana, native Kyla Peter, and Columbus’s Nela Riddle.
“Being a Luddy Scholar means a great deal to me,” Peter says. “This exciting opportunity will allow me to become a specialist in data science by working closely with new connections that I make in Luddy. Building these relationships will not only help me further learn about my degree of data science but also help me learn about research being conducted in my field and different job opportunities that I might be interested in.”
Peter has already become involved with the Women in Computing organization at the Luddy School, and she is exploring opportunities in the Luddy Student Government. She also plans to pursue research opportunities.
“Research will not only make me more knowledgeable in my chosen field and introduce me to new people, but it will also help me become more involved in Luddy,” Peter says. “I’m also planning on an environmental sustainability studies minor, so I can use my skills to conduct research and collect data on our earth’s current climate condition.”
Malone is focused on an intelligent systems engineering degree with a particular interest in AI. Being a Luddy Scholar will give him the chance to learn from tech leaders while pursuing his ultimate goal of earning a master’s degree in ISE in five years.
“By being a Luddy Scholar, I have more opportunities to personally interact with different professors and alumni, which I believe will be a significant help to me in building a network of people in the tech industry,” Malone says. “My career goal is to be a business owner of some kind for a robotics or software company. I am particularly interested in artificial intelligence and machine learning, so I am hopeful that by taking classes that discuss those topics at Luddy, I can reach my goals effectively.”
Riddle has already taken her first steps toward her career by serving an internship with LHP Engineering Solutions this past summer. She became, in her words, “hooked on coding” in the fifth grade, and she used her coding experience to enter IU as a Cox Research Scholar to go along with her Luddy Scholar status.
“Being a Luddy Scholar was very important to me because it told me, immediately upon arriving at IU, that I was valued here at Luddy,” says Riddle, who is already part of the research team at the Math Cancer Lab. “Receiving a letter written by Fred Luddy congratulating me himself made me feel recognized and proud to be going to Luddy. The Luddy Scholar program will help me pursue my degree by providing a network of people to support me in my path. The scholarship will also provide financial support, which will lower my financial burden and assist in my ability to take summer classes or get an internship.”
Foley is focused on learning how to develop technology and systems that will create a more sustainable world.
“I feel honored to have been named a Luddy Scholar,” Foley says. “It allows me to immerse myself in a world of technology and larger thinking. The access I’ll have to interact with tech leaders, IU faculty, and IU alumni will guide me in learning more about the world and the impact I might have upon it. This will prepare me to pursue solutions to problems affecting my community, my nation, and my world.”
In the classroom, the Luddy Scholars have already delved into internet freedom and the implications of changes in the 1996 Communications Decency Act, specifically, section 230, which provided immunity to online platforms from civil liability based on third-party content and for the removal of content in certain circumstances.
“We’re also looking at the Facebook Files project from the Wall Street Journal, and we will continue with some readings on AI,” Haghverdi says. “At the end of our semester, the students will discuss the life and works of some Turing laureates.”
The goal of the Luddy Scholars ultimately is to make an impact inside and outside of the classroom.
“I want to get a job in tech that helps the world in a positive way,” Riddle says. “But I can shape the Luddy School by participating in clubs and being active in events, and by setting an example for my peers to do the same.”