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Reu Sites: Much More Than A Research Experience For Undergraduates

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Research Infrastructure in STEM Disciplines

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1051.1 - 13.1051.13



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Paper Authors


Miguel Labrador University of South Florida

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Miguel A. Labrador ( received the M.S. in Telecommunications and the Ph.D. degree in Information Science with concentration in Telecommunications from the University of Pittsburgh, in 1994 and 2000, respectively. Since 2001, he has been with the University of South Florida, Tampa, where he is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and the Director of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program. Dr. Labrador’s research interests are in design and performance evaluation of computer networks and communication protocols for wired, wireless, and optical networks.

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Cesar Guerrero University of South Florida

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Cesar D. Guerrero ( is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida. He received his M.S. degree in Computer Science from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Mexico) in 2002. He is a Fulbright scholar who works with Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga (Colombia). His research interests include Bandwidth Estimation and Network Measurement.

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Rafael Perez University of South Florida

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Rafael A. Pérez ( is Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, and Dean of Academics of the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida. He received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1967 and 1973, respectively. Dr. Perez’s research interests are in artificial intelligence, neural networks, and genetic algorithms. He has also served as coordinator for the IEEE Computer Society Latin America Distinguished Visitor’s Program, program evaluator for the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, and mentor for McNair Scholar’s Program for Underrepresented Minorities.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

REU Sites: Much More than a Research Experience for Undergraduates


Undergraduate research is one of the most important recommended vehicles to address current educational concerns in Science and Engineering, such as high dropout rates, low graduation rates, and low enrollment in graduate programs. In this paper we describe our experience running an NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site in Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E), an area where these problems have been recently exacerbated and where under-represented minority student groups with important growth rates have had a very low participation. The most important aspects that need to be included in these programs to address these concerns and some other initiatives that can bring additional benefits at low cost are also described. For each of these aspects, successful strategies or best practices are included. Finally, the effectiveness of the program is demonstrated with the results of the program evaluation.

1. Introduction

Over the last several years, the United States has witnessed alarming statistics and trends in graduate and undergraduate enrollment, graduation rates, and participation of minority groups in Science and Engineering (S&E) fields, and in Computer Science in particular. For example, according to the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering indicators 2006, underrepresented minorities did not enroll in or completed college at the same rate as whites. In 2003, the percentage of African Americans and Hispanics who completed ba3lor’s or higher degrees were 18% and 10%, respectively, compared with 34% of whites1. The graduation rate for African Americans and Hispanics in Engineering has remained at 11% over the last ten years2. Underrepresented minority students are also less likely than other groups to be enrolled in research institutions and instead, a high percentage of them (47%) enrolled in 2-yr institutions. Regarding freshmen intentions to major in S&E1, shows that in 2004, although 9% of the students planned to major in engineering only 2%-5% had plans to major in Computer Science. At the graduate level, enrollment in S&E has declined since 2003 mainly as a consequence of the decline observed in foreign students, which declined 12% in Engineering and 23% in Computer Science.

Meanwhile, the country has experienced unequal population growth rates of certain minority groups compared to the rest of the U.S. population. In recent reports3,4, Hispanics are shown to be the fastest growing population in the United States and the largest minority group in the country since 2005. Even though the reports indicate that Hispanics will account for one quarter of the U.S.’s population by 20503, they also indicate that Hispanics only account for 6, 4 and 3 percent of the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, respectively. Furthermore, they are the least educated major ethnic group, and the group with the lowest graduate school enrollment. The conclusion is that these trends and numbers combined represent serious problems for the United States. In order to maintain the competitiveness and leadership in technology, the U.S.

Labrador, M., & Guerrero, C., & Perez, R. (2008, June), Reu Sites: Much More Than A Research Experience For Undergraduates Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3254

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