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Evaluating the Impact of Enrichment and Professional Development Activities on REU Students

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Bimal Nepal Texas A&M University

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Dr Bimal Nepal is Professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. His research interests are in manufacturing, distribution, supply chain management, and engineering education.

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Prabhakar Pagilla Texas A&M University

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Satish Bukkapatnam Texas A&M University

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Manan Shah Texas A&M University

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Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs have been credited for attracting and retaining students in science and engineering who otherwise may not have considered disciplines in science and engineering as their career choices. In addition to core research activities, REU programs generally provide multiple enrichment and professional development activities for participants. While the nature and the number of professional development activities vary from one REU program to another, the most common activities include ethics and safety training, research and industry seminars, GRE workshops, writing workshops, graduate school application preparation, and industry visits. Furthermore, some of these professional development activities are also conducted in large group settings with students from other research programs beyond the REU cohort. The rationale behind combining REU students with other researchers is to create a community of learners and provide them with an opportunity to build/extend their professional network. Although professional development activities are an integral part of the REU sites, there is often very limited coverage of such activities in the existing literature on REU projects. This paper presents the impact of professional development activities on the experience of REU participants in a manufacturing REU site at a major research university in the southwestern United States. For this study, data was collected from participants by an external evaluator by using both qualitative and quantitative methods. This paper presents and describes the cumulative data from three REU cohorts. The analysis and results of the data are disaggregated by the student academic level (sophomore, junior, senior), gender, ethnicity, the type of their home institutions (research or teaching institution), and desired career paths in the future (graduate school or industry). The paper also provides a detailed discussion and implications of these findings.

Nepal, B., & Pagilla, P., & Bukkapatnam, S., & Shah, M. (2022, August), Evaluating the Impact of Enrichment and Professional Development Activities on REU Students Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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