Becker Global Education Fund

The primary objective of the scholarship is to provide CEE undergraduate students an opportunity to "see the world"—to expand their world view and in turn enlarge the possibilities for civil and environmental engineering.

Founded in 2014, the Becker Global Education Fund is made possible by the generosity of James Becker '64. The award will underwrite a student’s ability to travel, preferably outside of the United States, to participate in educational or professional activities. The award can support a proposal for a range of activities, for example attending a special conference, pursuing coursework or entering an exchange program, working an unpaid internship, or other engagements that support the student’s growth as an engineer.


All sophomores, juniors, and seniors (first semester only) affiliated through the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering are eligible. A student is eligible for one travel award per calendar year.

How to Apply

Students must complete the Becker Fund Request Form

The request should clearly state how the proposed activity supports their educational goals and/or professional development. Provide a budget and timeline of travel. Funds are limited to expenses for transportation, food, lodging, and registration fees. A letter of recommendation from a CEE faculty member is required. Students may request travel awards up to a maximum of $6,000. 


All requests will be reviewed by the Director of the School and the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies.


Upon completion of the travel, the student's obligation is to submit a brief report on their experience, and to present, if asked, a presentation to other students and faculty, and possibly meet with the donor. 


A request may be submitted at any time during the year, but funding is limited. 

Note: Student project teams and students participating in a Cornell Study Abroad Program are not eligible to apply for this fund.

Recent Recipients

Mohamed Aden in Iceland

Mohamed Aden

I am sincerely honored to have been selected as the recipient of the Becker Global Education Funding. I had an opportunity to study at Reykjavik University's Iceland School of Energy. Iceland inspired me because almost 100% of the electricity comes from renewable geothermal energy; Iceland has rich geothermal resources. While there, I participated in geothermal courses, and had a unique opportunity to visit a geothermal power plant and carbon fix station. I visited an advanced geothermal research center and lab, the Iceland Geo Survey Center. I explored courses in geology which helped lay the foundation for my geothermal knowledge. These experiences have strengthened me by giving me a passion for renewable energy and leading me to develop skills for working with geothermal technology. I hope to work with a research-based group in the design of renewable energy technologies which can alleviate the world's energy concerns and make the world a better place to live.

Rebecca Holstein in Iceland

Rebecca Holstein

I am sincerely honored and thankful to have been selected as a recipient of the Becker Global Education Fund. This fund has granted me the opportunity to study at Reykjavik University's Iceland School of Energy located in a country which produces effectively 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. During my visit, I participated in classes that covered technical aspects of renewable energy, as well as the economics associated with the services enabling these technologies. I was granted access to cutting-edge renewable energy facilities like geothermal power plants and hydropower plants. These visits brought to life the magnitude of the infrastructure investments and sustaining operations needed to provide renewable energy services for Iceland. Throughout this trip, I engaged in conversations with leading academic and industrial experts in the sustainable energy field giving me a first-hand understanding of the challenges they have both overcome and are currently addressing. This experience, combined with my education through Cornell environmental engineering, has given me a better understanding of possible career opportunities in the future.

Issah Madugu

Issah Madugu

I am honored and thrilled to be a recipient of the Becker Global Education Award. I will have the opportunity to study in the University of Cambridge, on the of the oldest and prestigious universites in the world, which has been known for their good reputation and great alumni, who have shaped the world to be a much better place. This opportunity comes as a package of being able to take computational courses at the Girton College of Cambridge, including nanotechnology, jet engines, and renewable electrical power. I transferred into Cornell last year into the School of Civil Engineering from a community college in NYC and have been faced with a lot of challenges, but this opportunity right here I consider to be a breakthrough to both my academic and career path. After sitting in a meeting with Dr. Becker, I was so honored and motivated to be able to create a career that will help me change the lives of others and myself, and to also give back to every community that helped me to get to wherever I want to be in terms of my career. Thank you, Dr. Becker.

Saurav Sharma

Saurav Sharma

I want to start by saying how thankful I am to be a recipient of the Becker Global Education Fund. I learned so much over the past month by being present on site. I also got to apply a lot of things I learned in class. For the past month, I have been working alongside a group of engineers that designed a sewage treatment plant that is being built in Kathmandu, Nepal. Even though this project started almost 5 months ago, it is at its peak right now. Since this method includes various steps, I was exposed to many engineering techniques that were being applied in order to complete a certain task. I am extremely glad of what I could make out of this fund, and I have never been more motivated to work to become an innovator and leader in this field.

Priya Aggarwal

Priya Aggarwal

Thank you for allowing my trip to Peru to be possible and allowing me to partake in a wonderful experience. It was a really great experience at USIL and a great opportunity to learn about some of the problems Peru is facing today. Not only did I get to learn more about Peru in the classroom, but also viewed first-hand some of the problems such as a polluted river running through the city of Cusco. It was a very educational trip, but also a fun one, as I got to visit Machu Picchu and got to know a lot of students from other universities around the world. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students gain international experience just as you have helped me.

Abigail Nora Birnbaum

Abigail Nora Birnbaum

I am so thankful to be a recipient of the Becker Global Education Award! I will be using the funds to travel to Cambodia to attend meetings regarding the construction of the Sambor Dam in the Mekong river basin. I have been working with postdoctoral fellow Dr. Thomas Wild on modeling alternative dam designs and simulating operating policies for this dam. I am excited for the opportunity to experience first-hand the stakeholder interactions that play such a critical role in systems engineering.

Bernardo Casares Rosa

Bernardo Casares Rosa

I want to whole-heartedly thank you for your generosity. Thanks to you, I was able to visit Ecuador after the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake. In Ecuador, I assisted with developing computational models for earthquake responses, collected data after the earthquake, and helped families in need. During my visit, I had the fantastic opportunity to work directly with Dr. Vera, a Ph.D. from California Berkley, to help develop computational models. I also participated with data collection and recently, the book we were working on has been published. 

The goal of my research was to analyze structural damages in building after the earthquake, hoping that the analysis will help to better understand structural responses and prevent future damages. 

Visiting the affected families was probably the most shocking experience I ever had in my life. I volunteered to help in the Hearth of Jesus Foundation (Fundación Corazón de Jesús) during the weekends. Seeing desperation in peoples' eyes was a heart-breaking experience. I met families with no drinking water, bathroom, or place to sleep. Thankfully, we were able to talk to them, learn from their needs, and provide them with temporary tents for shelter. Still, the help we were able to provide them with is not even close to everything they need.

I can guarantee that going to Ecuador was a wonderful learning experience. It opened my eyes to many of the current problems that the world has and it encourages me to be a better civil engineer. Being able to help was a remarkable accomplishment this summer. I am really thankful for the fantastic opportunity you have provided me with.