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June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
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 . Early UREs are a High-Impact Practice  shown to increase STEM learning gains , and are especially significant for students from underrepresented communities  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  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.  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.  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.  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.  BLINDED, ‘Powder Compaction’ tool available online  BLINDED, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids (2016).  BLINDED, Mechanics Research Communications (2018).  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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