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Board # 47 : REU programs and K-12 outreach: A natural synergy

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


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 is the program director for the NSF-funded AERIM Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at OU, as well as a 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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Caymen May Novak Oakland Unversity

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Caymen Novak is a current Ph.D. candidate in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Her research investigates the influence of mechanical stimulus on ovarian cancer response. She is currently the outreach chair for the Graduate Society of Women Engineers at the University of Michigan where she organizes engineering events for local elementary schools.

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Since the summer of 2006, the department of Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University (OU) has been organizing a research experience for undergraduates (REU) program that has been successful at recruiting underrepresented undergraduates in engineering – women in particular. Funded through the National Science Foundation REU program, this summer REU program focuses on automotive and energy-related research projects. The AERIM REU program at Oakland University aims to engage participants in rewarding automotive research experiences that excite and motivate them to pursue careers in scientific and engineering research, and seeks to address the nationwide problem of the under-representation of women and minorities in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

REU programs are designed around the needs of the undergraduate student participants. The research projects, seminars, laboratory/industry tours, meeting with mentors, networking events and other activities are all set up to maximize the positive impact of a research experience on the students. After all, numerous studies have shown that active participation in hands-on undergraduate research is one of the most effective ways to attract and retain talented undergraduate students, motivate them towards pursuing careers and advanced degrees in engineering and science, to help them feel more connected to their educational experience and to provide them with a greater sense of empowerment as learners. While many student participants have benefited over the years from their REU experience, the AERIM REU decided to introduce a service learning component to its program. One of the distinguishing features of service learning programs is that the goal is to benefit both the students providing the service and the persons receiving it. Service learning programs also help students improve their interpersonal skills and develop a better understanding of the needs of diverse groups of people while also benefiting the recipients of the activity. AERIM REU students, led by a former REU program participant, were tasked with developing outreach activities and presentations for K-5 students in an economically disadvantaged charter school in Detroit. The outreach activities were meant to excite the K-5 students about STEM and to provide them with an opportunity to engage in some hands-on activities. In this poster, we report on the organization and results of this initiative. Assessment results of the service learning 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.

Guessous, L., & Novak, C. M. (2017, June), Board # 47 : REU programs and K-12 outreach: A natural synergy Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27863

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