San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
Minorities in Engineering and Graduate Studies
25.272.1 - 25.272.9
Broadening Participation Activities at UPRM through the National Science Foundation BRIGE ProgramAbstract The Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grants in Engineering (BRIGE) program atthe National Science Foundation (NSF) is part of the Directorate for Engineering (ENG) andoffers funding opportunity to all beginning engineers with the intent of increasing the diversity ofresearchers in the engineering disciplines. The goal of the program is to increase the number ofproposals from individuals who can serve as role models and mentors for an increasingly diverseengineering student population. BRIGE aims to support innovative research and diversity plansthat contribute to recruiting and retaining a broad representation of engineering researchersespecially those from groups that are underrepresented in the engineering population. TheCollege of Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (UPRM) has anenrollment of about 5000 students (approximately 98% are Hispanic), 67% males and 33%females. At UPRM, researchers have an excellent opportunity to impact both Hispanic andwomen, which are traditionally underrepresented populations in engineering. Currently, there are three active research endeavors funded through the BRIGE program atUPRM. The objective of this paper is to disseminate the broadening participation initiatives thathave been designed and implemented at UPRM through these projects. The research objective ofthe first project is to develop a self-programmable circuit infrastructure for analog memories thatwill lay the foundation needed for developing novel high-performance programmable circuitsand systems by taking care of the programming issues involved with floating-gate devices.Broadening participation activities include: sponsoring research efforts of 2 graduate studentsand 5 undergraduate students, outreach activities conducted for high school students, and 7senior students have been indirectly impacted through a special topic course. The overallobjective of the second project is to initiate a research program to broaden participation andincrease opportunities of Hispanic engineering students so that they could become engaged inresearch as independent investigators. With this project, two courses have been developed forundergraduate research that has impacted about 80 students. Four of these students went to workas mentors to 48 high school girls and boys at a Mechanical Engineering Summer Camp. Duringthe 6-day camp, students were introduced to ME as a career and were also exposed to laboratoryactivities in diverse areas. Finally, the goals of the third project are to develop a Spanish versionof the statics concept inventory (CATS) and to determine if bilingual students exhibit the samemisconceptions as those identified in CATS. This study has broaden the participation ofunderrepresented groups in two ways: 100% of the participants are Hispanic students, somethingthat hasn’t been done previously on a study of this type; and graduate and undergraduate studentsworking on the project are female and Hispanic. In summary, impacts of these activities resulted in an increase and diversification of researchactivities at UPRM that have been beneficial to both undergraduate and graduate students fromdifferent engineering departments at UPRM. Also male and female Hispanic high schoolstudents have been engaged in research activities that will allow them to consider engineering asa career and even more to be interested in engineering research.
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