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Board 278: Enriching the REU Experience through Student-Led Outreach Activities

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Dan DelVescovo Oakland University

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Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

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Darlene Groomes Oakland University

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Bianca Bryant


Laila Guessous Oakland University

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Laila Guessous, Ph.D. is a professor in the department of mechanical engineering at Oakland University (OU) in Rochester, MI. Her research and teaching interests lie in the areas of fluid mechanics and heat transfer, with an emphasis on computational methods. She has been directing the NSF-funded AERIM REU program since 2006 and previously served as co-PI on
the Oakland University WISE@OU NSF ADVANCE Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination (PAID) grant. She is also in charge of faculty mentoring in the School of Engineering and Computer Science at OU.

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The benefits of undergraduate student experiences are well known. Students participating in research experience for undergraduates (REU) programs report increased skills and self-confidence, a greater sense of empowerment as learners and more motivation to pursue science or engineering careers and graduate degrees. REU programs generally aim to engage students in exciting and rewarding research and professional development experiences to motivate them to pursue careers or advanced degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Unlike most other types of summer internships, REU programs are typically very student-focused. The faculty mentors, projects, activities, seminars, tours, etc. are selected to generate a positive impact on the student participants. After many years of offering a successful REU experience, the AERIM REU program at Oakland University (OU) decided to include a K-12 outreach component to its list of REU activities. This decision was driven by the many documented benefits of service-learning programs, which not only are of value to the persons receiving the service, but also the students providing it. They also help students improve their interpersonal and communication skills and develop a better understanding of the needs of people with diverse or different backgrounds.

After pivoting to a virtual format in the summer of 2021 due the Covid-19 pandemic, the AERIM REU program was once again offered in-person in the summer of 2022, hence allowing for an outreach activity. The initial plan was to partner with a non-profit science center in the city of UU. Unfortunately, the science center was experiencing staffing changes, as well as ongoing challenges due to Covid-19, so the AERIM REU PIs had to come up with an alternative. The school of engineering and computer science at OU has a robust and active K-12 outreach program and has partnered with the RRR society to offer a summer residential STEM program, targeting under-represented minority high-school girls from the city of UU. Working in coordination with the assistant director of outreach, AERIM REU students were tasked with developing outreach activities and presentations for the camp participants. Each REU team was responsible for developing one 1-1.5 hour activity. REU students were given complete flexibility to develop their outreach activities with little faculty influence, but were encouraged to focus on hands-on activities that could relate back to their ongoing REU research projects and that would excite the camp participants about STEM. In this paper, we report on the organization and results of this initiative. Assessment results of the outreach activity will also be shared. We believe that this type of information could prove to be of value to other REU program directors and faculty seeking to organize similar programs.

DelVescovo, D., & Groomes, D., & Bryant, B., & Guessous, L. (2023, June), Board 278: Enriching the REU Experience through Student-Led Outreach Activities Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42747

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