Rice student named Truman Scholar

Andrew Amis is interested in energy, water and Africa

Rice University junior Andrew Amis is one of 62 students selected from 629 nominees from 54 U.S. colleges and universities as a 2013 Truman Scholar. He will receive up to $30,000 for graduate study.

“The Truman Scholarship is one of the most competitive undergraduate awards in the U.S., and the application for it is extremely demanding,” said Caroline Quenemoen, director of fellowships and undergraduate research at Rice. “The scholarship recognizes Andrew’s exemplary leadership, particularly his commitment to developing innovative ideas to improve society and collaborating as an equal partner with communities in order to do so.”

Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class and be committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector.

Andrew Amis

Amis, of Clinton, Miss., is majoring in chemical engineering and history and plans to pursue a Master of Science degree in chemical engineering with a focus on energy and water technologies and a Master of Public Policy degree in international affairs.

“Engineering can be a great equalizer, and I want to help bridge the gap between technology and global affairs,” Amis said. “I want to find new ways to apply technology to pressing problems in Africa.”

After volunteering as a teacher in Tanzania, Africa, Amis founded TechLabs to create hands-on, open-source engineering design challenges for students. He has secured funding from Rice’s Center for Civic Engagement’s Rich Family Endowment to provide startup materials for Village Schools International, a group of 26 schools reaching 8,000 students throughout Tanzania. His vision is to scale the model to be more broadly available throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Amis received the James and Barbara Henry Award for Student Global Outreach to go to Kigali, Rwanda, this summer to share TechLabs with schools, nongovernmental organizations and government officials. Former President Bill Clinton recently highlighted TechLabs in the opening plenary to the Clinton Global Initiative University.

At Rice Amis co-chaired a conference on energy, education and entrepreneurship in Houston for the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, taught a one-credit course that examined energy from engineering and policy perspectives and led an undergraduate engineering team designing new microsatellite launch technology. He also is an avid percussionist.

He has authored articles for Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy urging for serious commitment to technology in U.S. foreign policy in Africa and more broadly on the importance of knowledge-based economies in the developing world. He has met with Arab students as a delegate to Qatar in the Public Diplomacy and Global Policymaking in the 21st Century program. As a fellow in the Baker Institute’s Jesse Jones Leadership Program in Washington, D.C., he helped the former science and technology adviser to the U.S. secretary of state organize a collaborative scientific workshop in Uzbekistan.

“I am star-struck to be part of the Truman community,” Amis said. “I have my mentors to thank. I would not be here without them.”

The 2013 Truman Scholars will assemble in May for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards at a June 2 ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd president and is supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury. In addition to funding for graduate school, recipients receive priority admission at some premier graduate schools, career counseling, leadership training and special internship opportunities with the federal government.

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.