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Virtual Summer Research Program with Professional Development and Financial Literacy Training

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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

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 6

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Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Hua Li Texas A&M University - Kingsville Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Hua Li, a Professor in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, is interested in renewable energy, simulation and optimization, and engineering education. Dr. Li has served as P.I. and Co-P.I. in different projects funded by NSF, DOEd, DHS, and HP, totaling more than 5 million dollars.

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Kai Jin Texas A&M University - Kingsville

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Dr. Kai Jin is a Professor of Industrial Engineering and Co-PI of the MERIT project. Her research interests include Sustainable Energy, Green Manufacturing, Quality Control, and Multi Objective Decision Making and Optimization as well as Engineering Education. She has served as PI and Co-PI in several NSF, DoEd, NIST, USDA, DHS, NRC, and industry sponsored projects.

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Ricardo Miguel Garcia Pineda Texas A&M University - Kingsville

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Jaya S. Goswami Texas A&M University - Kingsville

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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. 10.18260/1-2--38026

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