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Initiation of an Undergraduate Research Program

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Making Headway: Two-year/Four-year Curriculum Alignment and Also U-G Research

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.779.1 - 25.779.5



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Paper Authors


Dan G. Dimitriu San Antonio College

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Dan G. Dimitriu has been practicing engineering since 1970 and taught engineering courses concurrently for more than 20 years at various institutions. In 2001, he joined San Antonio College full-time as the Coordinator of its Engineering program. He has been involved with several engineering societies and became a member of the Two-year College Division of ASEE in 2002. His research interests are in alternative fuels, fuel cells, plastics, and engineering education.

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Jerry O'Connor San Antonio College

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Jerry O'Connor has been teaching physics (and occasionally engineering and math) courses since 1980. He is currently Department Chairperson and has persistently advocated for the integration of findings from physics and engineering education research with education practice.

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Initiation of an Undergraduate Research Program at a Community CollegeAbstractOur two year college is home to the first (and only to date) MESA Center in Texas. MESA is acomprehensive academic support program that originated in California in 1970. MESA standsfor math, engineering and science achievement, and the program is designed to help studentsexcel in math, science, technology and engineering courses and graduate with STEM-baseddegrees. The MESA Center is also home for several student organizations on our campus,including MAES, SACNAS, and SWE. Over the last two years we have partnered with a nearbyuniversity to direct a NASA sponsored undergraduate research program. The program (CIPAIR)provides opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in ongoing research projects off-campus, as well as to conduct new research projects on campus under the guidance andsupervision of a faculty member.The MESA Center served as a focal point for promoting these opportunities and fordissemination of project results. The on-campus research projects were developed by studentteams based on equipment and instrumentation that was available and/or obtained by loan ordonation. Three teams worked independently on projects involving solar panel efficiency,hydroponics, and energy production by a rider on a stationary exercise bicycle. The projectsconcluded with team reports and presentations in the MESA center to an audience of students,staff, faculty, and NASA representatives.Undergraduate research programs at four-year institutions have been widely reported to increaseretention, and our results indicate that two-year institutions can also initiate successful programs.This paper will present in detail the initiation of a summer undergraduate research program atour community college, offer recommendations, and outline future plans.

Dimitriu, D. G., & O'Connor, J. (2012, June), Initiation of an Undergraduate Research Program Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21536

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