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Early Career and Remote Undergraduate Research Experiences as Catalysts for More Impactful Community College STEM Opportunities

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

2-Year College Division: Collaboration Between Institutions

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Two-Year College

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Jared Ashcroft Pasadena City College

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Jared Ashcroft graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Long Beach State in California and subsequently attended Rice University, where he worked for Dr. Lon J. Wilson, developing carbon based nano-bio immunoconjugates for use in medical applications. After earning his doctorate in Chemistry from Rice, he moved to Berkeley California to work in Dr. Carolyn Larabell’s National Center for X-ray Tomography at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Currently, he is a Professor of Chemistry at Pasadena City College and runs an undergraduate research program attempting to infuse active learning in conjunction with remotely accessible microscopes into K-12 and university science curriculum. He is actively involved in bring micro nanotechnology technician programs to Community College campuses being a part of the Remotely Accessible Instruments in Nanotechnology (RAIN) Network and the Nanotechnology Professional Development Partnership (NPDP) Program.

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Jillian L Blatti Pasadena City College Orcid 16x16

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Jillian L. Blatti is a chemistry professor at Pasadena City College. She was part of the algae biotechnology community as a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, and her current research focuses on sustainability outreach and education, as well as teaching creative problem solving in science.

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Marcial Gonzalez School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

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Dr. Marcial Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University since 2014. He is affiliated with the Center for Particulate Products and Process (CP3), the Purdue Energetics Research Center (PERC) and the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories. He was a Research Associate at Rutgers University with an affiliation with the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and with the NSF Engineering Research Center for Structured Organic Particulate Systems. He received his Ph.D. in Aeronautics, with a minor in Materials Science, from the California Institute of Technology in 2010. He is a Mechanical Engineer from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and received a MS in Aeronautics from Caltech. His research sits at the interface of virtual-physical particulate engineering, and it focuses on developing predictive modeling, simulation, and characterization techniques, at and across different scales, to further the understanding of microstructure formation and evolution in confined particulate systems, with an emphasis in manufacturing processes and the relationship between product fabrication and performance.

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Melanie T. Hacopian California State University, Long Beach

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Danyal Nicole Pereyda Cave

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Isabel Bojanini


Esteban Bautista California State University, Northridge

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I am currently a senior studying Biochemistry at California State University, Northridge. Beginning in Fall 2020, I will pursue a Chemistry Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine.

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Veronica I. Jaramillo Pasadena City College

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This paper presents a successful model of preparing community college students for computational summer Undergraduate Research Experiences (UREs) that may be of interest to other community college faculty. Recent studies show that STEM degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities (URM)comprise 14.7% of all Bachelors, 12.6% of all Masters, and only 8.3% of all U.S. Doctorate degrees awarded, even though URMs are 29.3% of the U.S. population [1]. Early UREs are a High-Impact Practice [2] shown to increase STEM learning gains [3], and are especially significant for students from underrepresented communities [4] It is worth noting that data from the National Student Clearinghouse shows only 15% of all community college students complete a four-year degree in less than six years, with far lower numbers for underrepresented and low-income students.

Over the past four years, the BLINDED_1 summer URE program at BLINDED_2 large research University , has created URE opportunities for community college students. This paper describes a 4-year partnership between faculty at BLINDED_3 Community College, which consists of 55% students from underrepresented populations, and a research group in the School of Mechanical Engineering at BLINDED_2 .

The Community College students first participate in the year-long BLINDED_5 research program which trains them in skills and techniques needed for the summer URE. Specific activities vary by student, but have included mentorship with faculty on the importance of scientific research, computer programming, working in a laboratory, critically thinking through a scientific problem, and sharing outcomes through presentations at regional and national conferences.

During the URE summer program, community college students worked side-by-side with both fellow undergraduate student researchers and graduate student mentors on a research project, fabrication of particulate products by powder compaction, that has both experimental and computational components with applications to a variety of industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to propulsion. This research project is under the umbrella of the BLINDED_6 Center and trains students on powder technology, modeling of manufacturing processes, and implementation of these models in the NSF-supported BLINDED_7 science gateway [5-8].

Interviews and surveys demonstrated students had a positive experience in pre-summer research experience and that performing research in advance of the summer URE better prepared them to work in the more advanced laboratory at BLINDED_2 . Several students will share their individual experiences as part of this paper. Overall, ten students have participated in the URE partnership. Of these, eight have transferred to 4-year universities and seven have continued performing research, with five being co-authors on peer-reviewed science-based research publications. Two have graduated from their 4-year program and are currently enrolled in graduate school.

Looking forward, the BLINDED_3 - BLINDED_2 partnership will evolve to include remote learning. To further increase the program impact, faculty and students from BLINDED_2 and research faculty and students from BLINDED_3 will meet remotely during the academic year to discuss aspects of the projects. This will involve a greater number of community college student participants in this Remote Undergraduate Research Experience (R-URE) and better prepare them to participate in the summer URE.

References [1] M. Estrada, M. Burnett, A.G. Campbell, P.B. Campbell, W.F. Denetclaw, C.G. Gutiérrez, S. Hurtado, G.H. John, J. Matsui, R. McGee: Improving underrepresented minority student persistence in STEM. CBE—Life Sciences Education, vol 3, pp 15, 2016. [2] G. Kuh, High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2008. [3] J.S. Stanford, S.E. Rocheleau, K.P.W. Smith, J. Mohan, “Early undergraduate research experiences lead to similar learning gains for STEM and Non-STEM undergraduates,” Studies in Higher Education, vol 42, pp 115-129, 2015. [4] G. Trujillo, P.G. Aguinaldo, C. Anderson, et al. “Near-peer STEM Mentoring Offers Unexpected Benefits for Mentors from Traditionally Underrepresented Backgrounds,” Perspect Undergrad Res Mentor , vol 4, p1, 2015. [5] BLINDED, ‘Powder Compaction’ tool available online [6] BLINDED, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids (2016). [7] BLINDED, Mechanics Research Communications (2018). [8] BLINDED, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids (2019).

Ashcroft, J., & Blatti, J. L., & Gonzalez, M., & Hacopian, M. T., & Cave, D. N. P., & Bojanini, I., & Bautista, E., & Jaramillo, V. I. (2020, June), Early Career and Remote Undergraduate Research Experiences as Catalysts for More Impactful Community College STEM Opportunities Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34486

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