When Erin Shaughnessey began her PhD at Tufts University, she wanted to solve biomedical problems but needed a clear direction for her research.
With help from her advisor, Shaughnessey identified an unmet need in tissue engineering—designing a model for kidney injury. She applied to a unique program that provides not only financial support but also mentorship from leading experts in her field. Shaughnessey became a Draper Scholar.
She recently graduated from the program and is now a full-time employee in the Multiphysics Microfluidics Design division at Draper.
Real-World Research Opportunities
For more than 50 years, Draper has provided experiential research opportunities for graduate students across a wide range of disciplines.
The Draper Scholar Program is a prime example of our commitment to the next generation of researchers. In partnership with nearly a dozen prestigious universities, we identify promising students and important research questions that intersect with our areas of expertise and our customers’ missions.
Each year, 60–70 graduate students tackle thesis-level R&D projects under the joint supervision of Draper staff and their university faculty. Recent examples include technologies for hypersonic propulsion, situational awareness for autonomous systems, and rapid detection of pathogens.
To date, more than 1,300 graduate students have completed degrees under a research partnership with Draper. Many have since capped their careers as leaders in government, military service, industry, and academia—including several astronauts and military flag officers and two Draper vice presidents.
Exploring Forward-Thinking Ideas and Unmet Needs
The chief goal of the Draper Scholar Program is to create an excellent, practical educational experience for students whose work is relevant to biotechnology, national security, defense, or space exploration.
“PhD thesis projects tend to center on ideas that might take three, four, five, or more years to mature,” noted Brenan McCarragher, Draper CTO and manager of the Draper Scholar Program. “The Draper Scholar program gives us an opportunity to explore forward-thinking ideas and conduct white space research with the potential to result in novel solutions for our customers.”
The program provides tuition coverage, a monthly stipend, and support for publication and dissemination of results – including our annual research symposium, where Scholars present results and prototypes to members of the scientific and technical community.
Become a Draper Scholar
Applications are now open! Apply now.
By 2033, Draper aims to triple the number of Scholars each year. While most Scholars come to us through our existing university partnerships, others are recommended by our scientists and engineers or through our open application process.
We welcome potential candidates to learn more about the program and explore our current research topics of interest.
Because the best way to become a world-class researcher is by tackling real-world problems.