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Engaging Community College Students in University Research

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.487.1 - 23.487.12



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Paper Authors


Maria Teresa Napoli UC Santa Barbara

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Dr. Maria Teresa Napoli received a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara, in 2004. In 1999, she also earned a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Padova in Italy. Currently, she holds positions as project scientist in the Mechanical Engineering Department, and as Community College education coordinator at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Prior to this appointment, she worked for several years as a microsensors system expert. Her research interests include nanofluidic technologies for medical applications, modeling and control of large arrays of MEMS, and educational strategies and programs to increase STEM diversity.

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Arica Lubin Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships, University of California, Santa Barbara

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Liu-Yen Kramer Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships, University of California Santa Barbara

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Jens-Uwe Kuhn Santa Barbara City College


Nicholas Arnold Santa Barbara City College

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Since 2002, Dr. Nicholas Arnold has been an engineering instructor at Santa Barbara City College. Previously, Dr. Arnold held the same title at Allan Hancock College from 1996 to 2002. Dr. Arnold earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Calif. at Santa Barbara in 1990. He earned his B.A. in Physics and Applied Math from the University of Calif. at San Diego in 1984. He was conferred the A.S. in Engineering at Sierra College in 1981

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Ofelia Aguirre Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships


Megan T. Valentine University of California, Santa Barbara

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Megan Valentine joined the UCSB faculty in 2008 as an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering. She received her Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University in 2003. She then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Biology at Stanford University under the sponsorship of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund through a Career Award at the Scientific Interface. She is an expert in the development and use of novel techniques for the nanoscale characterization of biological materials. Her current research focuses on how molecular motors and cytoskeletal polymers generate force and sustain tension in cells. In addition to her research, she directs the Internships in Nanosystems Science, Engineering and Technology (INSET) program at UCSB, an NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program that brings Calif. community college students to UCSB each summer for an intensive program of research and professional development.

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Engaging Community College Students in University ResearchIt is commonly agreed that the future competitiveness of the US economy will depend on itsability to attract talent and foster innovation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering andMathematics) disciplines. At the same time it is also becoming clear that this need can only bemet by attracting, educating, and retaining a larger and more diverse cohort of STEM students. Inthis regard, Community Colleges (CC), serving a disproportionate number of underrepresentedminority, female and nontraditional students, represent a pool of potential talent that, due to amisguided perception of its students as being less capable, often remains untapped.In this paper, we discuss our strategies to attract and support the academic advancement of CCstudents in the STEM fields. In particular, we discuss our NSF-sponsored Research Experiencefor Undergraduates program entitled Internships in Nanosystems Science Engineering andTechnology (INSET). Since its inception in 2002, INSET has raised the profile of CC studentresearchers at our institution, the University of California Santa Barbara, a highly ranked,research-intensive university. We argue that key components of INSET success are: 1) theinvolvement of CC faculty with a strong interest in promoting student success in all aspects ofprogram planning and execution; 2) the design of activities that provide the level of support thatstudents might need because of lack of confidence and/or unfamiliarity with a universityenvironment, while setting clear goals and high performance expectations.Additionally, the INSET program has been a successful template for the creation of other CC-university partnerships at our campus, which encourage and support the advancement of CCstudents as they transfer on to 4-year institutions in STEM fields. We conclude by offering thissuccessful model for university/community college partnerships, which can be implemented atother institutions.

Napoli, M. T., & Lubin, A., & Kramer, L., & Kuhn, J., & Arnold, N., & Aguirre, O., & Valentine, M. T. (2013, June), Engaging Community College Students in University Research Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19501

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