June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.780.1 - 12.780.18
Generating Enthusiasm for Research through Automotive Projects and Industrial Mentors: Lessons Learned from the First Year of an REU Program
The department of Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University (OU) received funding for three years through the National Science Foundation REU program and the Department of Defense ASSURE program to organize a summer research experience for undergraduates (REU) program that focuses on automotive research. The Automotive Research and Industrial Mentorship (ARIM) REU program at Oakland University 1 aims to engage participants in rewarding automotive research experiences that excite and motivate them to pursue careers in scientific and engineering research, and seeks to address the nationwide problem of the under- representation of women and minorities in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The automotive focus of this program was a natural choice given OU’s close ties to and location near the world headquarters and engineering centers of the Big-Three automakers, as well as over one hundred automotive suppliers in southeast Michigan. So, in the summer of 2006, ten undergraduate engineering students from across the United States – half of whom were female - spent 10 weeks working in teams of two or three on automotive research projects involving fluid mechanics, heat transfer, energy and/or tribology. Throughout this program, students worked closely with faculty, industrial mentors and graduate students and took part in additional activities such as field trips, seminars, meetings with working engineers and automotive researchers, an SAE conference and short courses on alternative energy. One of the key features of this program was its use of industrial mentors; the industrial mentors are all highly qualified and experienced individuals from the automotive industry who have volunteered to take part in this experience because they have a strong commitment to mentorship and are eager to share their knowledge and experiences with talented young students.
The purpose of this paper is to present some of the lessons learned from the first year of the program. Some of the planning, logistics and procedures will be described. Emphasis will be placed on the lessons learned: what worked, what didn’t work and what improvements can be made in the following years. We believe that this type of information would prove useful to others seeking to organize similar programs.
Basic Philosophy of the Program
The nationwide problem of the under-representation of women in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields is well known and has been well documented 2-6. While women have been entering and graduating from colleges and universities across the country at record rates (receiving over 57% of Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral degrees in fields other than the sciences and engineering in 2001), they are not selecting the STEM fields of study that tend to generate the higher salaries and also are necessary for the continued competitiveness of
Guessous, L., & Zou, Q., & Sangeorzan, B., & Wang, X., & Kobus, C., & Barber, G., & Alkidas, A., & Latcha, M. (2007, June), Generating Enthusiasm For Research Through Automotive Projects And Industrial Mentors: Lessons Learned From The First Year Of An Reu Program Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2312
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