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CHDP Student Resources

CHDP Student Resources

The Calhoun Honors Discovery Program’s Collaborative Discovery Diploma prepares students to be lifelong learners in collaborative sociotechnical innovation for sustainable development.

a faculty member sits with students at a table

Our Student Experience

The goal of the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program (CHDP)  is to help prepare integrative, lifelong learners who: 

  • Can move easily across knowledge domains and pick up diverse new skills in a just-in-time approach 
  • Can connect their specialized knowledge to complex collaborative contexts for problem setting and problem solving 
  • Use complex relational and collaborative contexts for self-discovery and personal fulfillment 
  • Connect personal fulfillment to advancing an equitable and sustainable society

The CHDP helps learners develop these competencies through a combination of transdisciplinary studios, interdisciplinary general education and disciplinary preparation.  Learning happens in a collaborative cross-sector context spanning many academic disciplines, industry and community.  Students work with experts across these sectors to co-design their learning experience and adaptive pathways. 

The CHDP learning experience focuses on collaborative sociotechnical innovation for sustainable development.  This theme engages the specific interests and abilities of all academic and industry participants regardless of disciplinary background or industry specialization. It also facilitates the synchronous development of individual and collective achievement and leverages the strengths and fulfills the mission of Virginia Tech as a land-grant institution.

Faculty and students from all participating disciplines, as well as experts from industry and non-profit partners, come together for hands-on explorations of real-world problems. The problem spaces that they tackle span strategic areas of discovery for our students, faculty, and partners. Students are presented with real-world problems and data as well as expert multidisciplinary, multi-sector supervision for their projects.

All student projects embrace a systems approach and student teams have participation that spans CHDP’s four sets: feasibility, viability, desirability, sustainability. The Transdisciplinary Studios, prototyping lab, and virtual distributed collaboration are available to students, faculty, and partners 24/7 for collaborative exploration of these problem spaces. The studio structure is listed below:

First-year studio (Fall):

Concept development: Collaborative problem-setting with systems thinking approach; Collaboratively understand complex problem spaces; Global contexts for sociotechnical innovation spanning CHDP’s four sets: feasibility, viability, desirability, sustainability; Reflective making; Ethical dimensions of collaborative sociotechnical innovation for sustainable development.

Second-year studio (Spring):

Concept prototyping: Collaborative problem-solving with systems thinking approach; Introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods; Optimization and integration; Component prototyping; Ethical dimensions of collaborative sociotechnology innovation for societal impact.

Third-year studios:

(Fall): Applied systems thinking; Identification and analysis of stakeholders; Skills discovery and transdisciplinary team building; Rapid Prototyping.

(Spring): Applied collaborative sociotechnical innovation; Customer discovery; Evidence-based decision-making; Iterative design; Troubleshooting.

Fourth-year (Capstone) studios:

(Fall): Applied systems building; Project leadership and management, including resource allocation and scheduling; Team management; Value propositions; Project pitching.

(Spring): Applied systems evaluation: Understanding precedence, modeling, experimentation and cognitive reasoning; User experience; User testing; Systems assessment addressing feasibility, viability, desirability, sustainability, optimization, and integration; Systems reflection and documentation.

Customizable interdisciplinary general education. The CHDP offers one-credit Honors course modules that cover key concepts in the participating disciplines related to collaborative sociotechnical innovation for sustainable development. Students choose the modules that best fit their interdisciplinary collaboration interests. All modules employ a flipped classroom format, combining rich faculty-student interactions. All modules count toward Pathways to General Education requirements.

All CHDP students will take a minimum of 18 transdisciplinary courses through a combination of modules and Honors College Faculty Student Agreements (FSAs). FSAs can be applied to any approved university Pathways for General Education courses in areas 2 - Humanities, 3 - Social Sciences, or 6a - Critique and Practice in the Arts.

The CHDP provides inclusive, collective learning that can help develop life skills (communication, collaboration, versatility, complex thinking, creativity) that are critical for success in the 21st century economy. To realize an inclusive relational context the CHDP aims to attract learners with many different life experiences as well as instructors from academia and industry with different areas of specialization. Thanks to significant industry and philanthropic support, all CHDP students receive tuition scholarships and additional grants for experiential learning. The CHDP students represent 20 different programs of study at Virginia Tech.

The CHDP spaces include the Discovery Studio, the Discovery Workshop in Hillcrest Hall, the Honors College Studios in the Squires Student Center, and the Kelly Hall lab. These studios give the CHDP students a dedicated space that allows them the opportunity to turn their ideas into prototypes.

Discovery Studio (Hillcrest Hall)

The Discovery Studio is the CHDP’s classroom and collaboration area. This is where students can study individually or in groups, attend lectures, take classes, etc. It is designed to be reconfigurable to suit their individual or group needs. It is also where we host special events, dinners, guest speakers, showcases, etc.

Discovery Workshop (Hillcrest Hall)

Adjoining the Discovery Studio is the Discovery Workshop. This space is dedicated to the idea of making. As part of the CHDP, we want to help students broaden their skill set through the making process. There is freedom to work on personal projects, projects within their majors, and especially CHDP-specific projects. In this space students can use 3D printers, a laser cutter/engraver, a soldering station, and a variety of power tools and hand tools.

Honors College Studios/Discovery 2 (Squires Student Center)

The Honors College Studios is a former ballroom, so it is a large space where all Honors College students have a similar freedom of movement and configuration that is offered in the Discovery Studio. The furniture here is reconfigurable to accommodate student needs. 

Kelly Hall

Opened in 2009, Kelly Hall houses the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, which supports and promotes cutting-edge research at the intersection of engineering, science, and medicine. 

The building includes engineering-led research laboratories, offices, and workspaces.

Current students may view their sample four-year plan here. Note: these are sample plans and students will need to work with their college advisors and CHDP faculty mentors to determine which modules they should take.

Students in the CHDP learn about socio-technical innovation through the four sets, which help frame our solutions to industry problems.

The four sets are: 1) desirability, or responding to user needs; 2) feasibility, or a technical approach that exists; 3) viability, or showing how a technical approach is reliable, testable, financially reasonable, and repeatable; and 4) sustainability, which encompasses societal factors like eco-friendliness, policy and regulation compliance, life-cycle costs, and economic prosperity for stakeholders.

Students in the CHDP are encouraged to incorporate perspectives from the four sets throughout their modules and studio courses.

Figure Integrating the four sets for sociotechnical innovation.

Figure Integrating the four sets for sociotechnical innovation.