Elon University / Today in Elon / Madison George ’23 named Goldwater Scholar


George is one of 417 students across the country to have been awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.

Madison George ’23 has been named the 2022 Goldwater Fellowship recipient. The engineering major, with a biomedical concentration, can now add another prestigious honor to her list of impressive accomplishments, including as a Lumen Fellow, Honorary Fellow, Member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and track and field athlete at Elon.

Madison George ’23

The scholarship, awarded by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, provides scholarships to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

“Through this experience, I hope and expect to grow my passion for biomechanical engineering, learn the real-world research process, and become a driving force in my industry,” George said.

The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most selective awards in the country, with only 417 students named Goldwater Scholars from an estimated pool of over 5,000 students and 1,242 students nominated by their respective institutions.

After graduation, George plans to pursue master’s and doctoral studies in mechanical engineering with a concentration in biomechanics. His ultimate goal is to design and build athletic spikes for a major shoe brand.

She used her interest in biomechanics, particularly foot kinetics and potential shoe design, as inspiration for her Lumen Scholar research, “Putting the Right Foot Forward: The First Printed Pole Vault Spikes in 3D for Women,” under the direction of Associate Professor of Engineering Scott Wolter and Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Christopher Shefali.

“During my freshman year in college, I used pole vault spikes for the first time and realized that these shoes are not made in women’s sizes, but are instead distributed as ‘unisex,'” George said. “Shortly after my debut season, I fractured my foot and had to take several months off from my favorite hobby. I dedicated myself to finding a gender-specific shoe design that was scientifically supported to promote gender equality in sport, prevent injuries and improve performance.

The Goldwater Fellowship will allow George to pursue serious research and product development, initiate early exposure to the engineering field, and make a “real impact” in the athletic and footwear industries.

Madison George ’23 won a Maker Hub Kickbox grant to design a women’s pole vault shoe. She has already 3D printed two first models of soles and is looking at the materials she will use for her prototype.

“This award means I can continue doing what I love without limits,” said George. “It has opened doors for me to pursue my goals at the highest academic level, will boost my research progress, and foster my personal development in college and beyond.”

George is the sixth Elon student to receive the Goldwater Scholarship after Ashlyn Crain ’22, Anna Altmann ’23, Mariana Kneppers ’18, Kelsey Van Dalfsen ’12 and Geoffrey Lynn ’07.

Goldwater Scholars are used to winning other graduate scholarships, including the NSF Graduate Fellowship, Rhodes Fellowship, and Hertz Fellowship, among others.

Elon students and recent alumni interested in the Goldwater Scholarship or other nationally competitive scholarships are encouraged to contact the National and International Scholarships Office.


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