July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Minorities in Engineering
Few local internship opportunities exist in STEM fields in rural South Texas. STEM minority college students here cannot experience an authentic work environment before entering the workforce after graduation. Due to COVID-19, a face-to-face summer research program was converted into a three-week virtual summer research internship (SRI) program in Summer 2020. It was offered to 49 college minority students in STEM majors from a minority serving institute and its neighboring community colleges. The SRI program provided academic, professional and career preparation training. Five to six participants formed a team, working with one faculty and one graduate student to complete a research project related to renewable energy, biomechanical engineering, 3D printing, or COVID-19 based data science. Faculty and graduate students met virtually with the participants everyday to provide research training, guidance, and mentorship. Participants also received professional development and financial literacy training through daily virtual meetings. Weekly webinars were offered by industry professionals and governmental officers focusing on project management, time management, career planning, etc. Each team was required to make weekly progress presentations and one final presentation, and to submit a team report. Exposing college students to research projects early in their academic career has demonstrated strong evidence of improved student-persistence. The National Academy of Sciences, Medicine and Engineering states that students should develop their own project-based learning opportunities that are part of a team project effort. The SRI program allows the students to develop their full potential of professional skills including leadership, communication, team collaboration, project management and entrepreneurship that are currently lacking in the traditional STEM education. The virtual environment is a challenge to keep students motivation and spirit on the project, but also it is a perfect training opportunity for work ethic, responsibility, and accountability. More than 90% of the participants rated their experiences very good or excellent, and indicated significant improvement on their confidence in research and professional development skills. Pre and post surveys were conducted to collect participants’ feedback. This paper will report the survey results, lessons learned, and the detailed program design of the SRI program.
Li, H., & Jin, K., & Garcia Pineda, R. M., & Goswami, J. S. (2021, July), Virtual Summer Research Program with Professional Development and Financial Literacy Training Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38026
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