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Pandemic Pivots: The Successful Transition of an NSF Research Internship to an Online Format

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Nicole Evans McIntyre University of California, Berkeley

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Nicole McIntyre serves as the Director of Education & Outreach for the Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science, a NSF funded Science and Technology Center. She is also the Manger of Transfer Success Initiatives for the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, and the Director of the Transfer-to-Excellence program, an REU for community college students. Nicole holds degrees in Psychology and Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, and a graduate degree in Educational Leadership from the University of San Francisco. She is committed to creating equitable and accessible public institutions of higher education, including inclusive environments for underrepresented students in STEM.

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Catherine T. Amelink Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Amelink is Associate Vice Provost for Learning Systems Innovation at Virginia Tech. She is also an affiliate faculty member in the Departments of Engineering Education and Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Virginia Tech.

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The Transfer-to-Excellence Summer Research Program is an exciting opportunity for community college students to conduct hands-on research in the labs of faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. Funded by an NSF Science and Technology Center and a private foundation, the program seeks to inspire students to transfer and complete a Bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. Typically a nine-week residential program, the 2020 Transfer-to-Excellence program was greatly impacted by COVID-19 and a state-wide Shelter-in-Place order. This paper details the successful transition of the Transfer-to-Excellence program to an online format, including remote research projects, mentoring, bootcamp, professional development, and community building events. Analysis of quantitative evaluation data demonstrates that, despite the remote format, interns had a very positive internship experience and highly satisfying mentoring relationships with graduate students. Most notably, the internship significantly enhanced students’ confidence to succeed as a student in science and engineering, and self-efficacy in their research skills. As such, this paper and poster presentation will provide a model for similar NSF funded programs pursuing an online format. The administrative team expects such transitions to become increasingly common for various reasons, including the need to adapt to unexpected health and environmental barriers, reducing cost, and expanding access to nontraditional students unable to participate in residential programs.

McIntyre, N. E., & Amelink, C. T. (2021, July), Pandemic Pivots: The Successful Transition of an NSF Research Internship to an Online Format Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37558

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