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SEAP Summer Reflections

The rates of STEM graduates are not keeping up with the amount of job openings in related fields. In response, the Army Educational Outreach Program leverages their civilian scientists, engineers and laboratories in the hope of instilling STEM literacy in students and introducing students to potential STEM tracks inside and outside of the Army. Working in Army labs across the country, high school students participate in the Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP). SEAP students conduct their research on base at eleven Army labs in five states, getting the unique opportunity to work directly with DoD scientists and engineers. This is a rare opportunity for high school students to dive into meaningful research and reflect on the breadth and depth of STEM careers.

 

Teamwork is key in SEAP as students and mentors work side-by-side. Apprentices learn more than lab techniques and procedures; they learn how colleagues collaborate, how to apply their education and how to tackle the daily expectations of research projects.

 

Learning the ebb and flow of “lab life” is an essential component to considering a STEM career – which is precisely why SEAP is a 7-8 week, full immersion experience. Students see how concepts they learned in classrooms are applied to real world applications. Mentors not only demonstrate research practices, they show how they put into practice their diverse education and passions for science, technology and engineering.

 

Apprentices overwhelmingly remark how SEAP has given them more confidence in their STEM knowledge, skills and abilities.

 

SEAP by the Numbers: Snapshot of Summer 2017

  • 4% are more confident in their STEM knowledge, skills and abilities
  • 2% are more interested in participating in other Army Educational Outreach Programs (AEOP)
  • 6% are more aware of Army of DoD STEM research and careers
  • 4% have a greater appreciation of Army and DoD research

 

Look forward to summer 2018 now! SEAP applications – as well as applications for other AEOP Apprenticeship Programs – are open. Deadline for applying is February 28, 2018.

Learn more about SEAP and our other apprenticeship programs

 

 

 

2018 Offers Greater Opportunities for REAP Students

In summer 2018, more high school students will have more opportunities to explore STEM careers and gain hands-on research experience in REAP (Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program)!

 

60 university labs will mentor students in 27 states and Puerto Rico. REAP apprentices work on projects in well-known fields such as biology, chemistry and physics as well as lesser-known areas of research in nanotechnology and data science. The goal of each experience is the same: introduce STEM research processes and careers to students who represent underserved populations. Most REAP students have not considered studying STEM topics beyond high school. Even fewer know professionals in science, technology, engineering, or math. Yet by the end of the summer, they have a new perspective of experimentation and a better understanding of careers that will match their interests and passions.

 

What do you think life is like inside research labs? Decades of apprentices in REAP know the answer. Originally launched by the Army Research Laboratory in the 1970s, REAP is designed to do away with the mystery of STEM careers for high school students who traditionally don’t have these rare opportunities.

 

REAP opens students’ eyes and opens doors to a STEM future. Students work shoulder to shoulder with faculty, graduate students and lab staff who are conducting professional, high-level research. Apprentices know little about the field and lab techniques when they start but over the course of the summer they learn research techniques, run experiments and have reportable results at the end of the 7-week program. Along the way, apprentices pick-up a greater understanding of STEM fields.

 

REAP isn’t just about research. Apprentices gain solid professional skills too, including:

  • Presentation skills: Most REAP labs hold mini-symposia where apprentices present their research process and findings. These sessions follow the exact format that research scientists and engineers use to share their findings and ask/answers questions to advance projects.
  • Professional insight: REAP reveals how STEM professionals apply their education, follow their passion and stay motivated through setbacks. Apprentices see first-hand how an idea or problem to be solved moves from concept to testing and development to real-world applications.
  • Drive: Everyone appreciates how difficult science, engineering and math are to study. Apprentices see career professionals through the highs and lows of lab failures and successes. The drive and motivation are contagious!
  • Work experience: Apprentices meet the demands of today’s workplace. As part of a research team, they know that their mentors and fellow lab staff depend on them to be one time, work hard and contribute to the challenge at hand.
  • Exploration of new topics: Diving into REAP projects, apprentices learn about topics that they never knew existed. In the end, some fall in love with the field and some come to appreciate the work but learn that another field would be better suited for them.

 

Applications are open! Find REAP near you & apply before Feb 28

 

 

Mission Accepted: A Teacher and her Students Push Beyond the Expected

By Erin Lester, eCYBERMISSION Project Manager

Kathy Biernat is in her twelfth year of teaching Science for fifth through eighth grade at St. Mary’s Visitation School in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. After a dozen years in curriculum design at the Medical College of Wisconsin, she went back to school for a teaching license adding to a bachelor’s from Marquette University and a master’s from the University of North Texas.

Challenges aren’t new to Biernat who regularly participates in professional development workshops in areas outside of her comfort zone. She has been to Houston to experience zero gravity, southern California to learn about radio telescopes and aerospace research, to Connecticut for training in robotics, Lake Superior for a week on an EPA research boat, northern Wisconsin for No Teacher Left Inside, and New Orleans to experience science from the World War II perspective. She serves on the NOVA Education Advisory Board and the NSTA Aerospace Programs Advisory Board. These experiences energize her and inject new enthusiasm and relevance into her teaching.

Over the years, she has had 100 teams in the competition and loves the challenge it provides her students. Biernat says that eCYBERMISSION pushes students past the “potato clock” science fair into solving real problems in their communities and making a difference. Students feel like they are actually scientists and engineers, which can make all the difference when capturing the interest of middle school students.

It wasn’t always easy for Biernat; her first year guiding the student teams in competition was a challenge. She was brand new to teaching and had no colleagues. She didn’t have anyone to turn to, until she found the Live Team Chats. These chats allowed her to learn the process and gain insight on completing the Mission Folder, which she recommends other teachers take advantage of. As a result, Biernat also serves as a mentor to new teachers in eCYBERMISSION to help them through the process, and says, “eCybermission is perfect for any classroom – for the new teacher, the rubrics, timelines, worksheets and mentoring opportunities are invaluable – they help a new teacher to structure a meaningful science and engineering project with students.

“For the mid-career teacher, using eCybermission is a way to liven up your curriculum and bring some new excitement to a traditional Science Fair experience. For the experienced teacher, eCybermission is a way to help teachers connect their teaching to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which may be new to some,” Biernat added. “eCybermission promotes authentic experiences in science and engineering, allowing students to learn how to work together to solve a problem in their community and gives teachers the tools to help them achieve that.”

Biernat is also a participant in eCYBERMISSION’s pilot program: Next Generation STEM Teacher Program (NGSTP) which she knows will give her the opportunity to gain more knowledge about NGSS. Biernat will be able to incorporate more STEM standards into her curriculum and be provided a framework that will continue to aid in advancing her students. She will also have the opportunity to work with Army science and engineer experts, which will enhance the lessons she develops by making it relevant and reflective of current research.

GEMS program featured in Harlem Times

Throughout the summer, students who participated in the newest Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science (GEMS) program, had the opportunity to learn from engineers and Near-Peer Mentors; demonstrations of science and engineering reality that these aspiring engineers’ had only dreamt about before.  Located at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, GEMS’ newest host site drew students from across the state to take part in STEM focused, week-long sessions, covering topics like Strength in Materials, Design of Experiments or Engineering Design.  Led by ARDEC engineer Douglas Wong, these week-long sessions helped inspire future generations of STEM talent, empowering students through problem solving, hands on learning experiences at the U.S. Army laboratory.  To learn more about the Picatinny GEMS program’s inaugural year, check out this article published in the October issue of The Harlem Times.

 

Opening Doors and Creating Hope for Students as a Unite Host Site

By Marcia Robin-Stoute

 

It is critical to engage students from underserved and underrepresented communities in quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning and career exploration. Many career possibilities that some of us take for granted are not necessarily presented as options for minority students. They have no idea that they, too, can strive for and achieve success in advanced STEM fields. As a host site for Unite, a pre-collegiate summer STEM program sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP), we at Texas Southern University (TSU) seek to sow this seed and open doors for students to worlds they never knew existed.

 

Unite helps underserved high school students gain a better understanding of real-world college and career applications in STEM through hands-on activities across multiple STEM fields. As an instructor in the department of engineering, I’ve had the pleasure of working with TSU faculty and the students we mentor through the Unite program. Year after year, I’m amazed at how deeply this partnership benefits both the students who attend as well as our TSU community.

 

The outstanding benefits for students are clear. Students, most of whom are from traditionally underserved and underrepresented communities, experience STEM careers in action, firsthand. At TSU, this exposure has included student fieldtrips to the NASA Johnson Space Center and the Houston Ship Channel, to name a few. We utilize the faculty of all academic programs so students can meet STEM professionals from diverse backgrounds and explore a multitude of research projects, any of which might spark their interest in a future career path. Students work in TSU labs on everything from flight simulators to 3-D printer design to soil testing to engineering software. These experiences empower students with confidence as they realize they already possess the knowledge and skills it takes to be successful in a STEM career.

 

Another part of what makes this program unique is how it challenges students to think beyond the expected, and how it helps students build resilience in the face of failure – a staple of engineering design at its best. I remember a recent summer during which students and faculty conducted a lab experience to make what we called “squishy circuits.” Our TSU faculty showed up with flour, salt, oil and water with food coloring. All the students were convinced that we were going to make bread; they didn’t believe us when we said those very ingredients could fuel a light bulb! Students tried it on their own first, kneading the dough and connecting the wires, but they became frustrated when the bulbs did not light up. They were ready to call it quits. However, once the faculty explained how negative and positive forces work in conductivity, students followed instructions to separate the dough into two piles so the wires would not touch. They were baffled and so excited when the bulb finally lit up. I’m certain it’s an experience they’ll never forget.

 

We at TSU’s engineering department also understand that a student’s college attendance and career choices cannot happen in a vacuum; for underrepresented students and families, in particular, the financial burden of college can be a daunting thought. That is why we have incorporated our financial department staff into our program to provide students resources for financial success. In fact, a recent program highlight was a trip to Junior Achievement, where students could hear from experts about financial risks and planning for the future.

 

However, perhaps the most surprising benefit of Unite is the impact it has on the TSU community. Many TSU faculty truly enjoy the opportunity to work with younger students for a change. Many have maintained relationships with former Unite students, writing letters of recommendation for college admissions and keeping in touch as students advance in their academic journey. Our faculty also understand they are helping develop a stronger, better qualified cohort of future college students, regardless of whether those students end up on the TSU campus or elsewhere.

 

As a Unite host site, TSU benefits first from being the catalyst of change and hope for talented, curious students who deserve every opportunity to pursue the career path of their choosing, even if they’ve previously only seen those careers on television. Second, we have become a pillar of our community in large part due to our participation in programs like Unite that prepare the next generation of college students for greater success.

 

We look forward to another fantastic year with the Unite program and encourage every college and university nationwide to get involved. Requests for Proposals are now open for the 2018-19 Unite program. Join us in inspiring tomorrow’s STEM leaders.

 

 

 

 

Rediscovering STEM Through the Eyes of My GEMS Students

By Jordan Edmond

Every summer, students in fifth through 11th grade come from varying regions, with varying levels of experience and unique interests to spend an entire week on a military base. For this week, they are all scientists and engineers, experiencing firsthand what a military-grade laboratory has to offer. Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science (GEMS) is an Army-sponsored, summer STEM enrichment program for middle and high school students that sparks and develops interest in STEM among young people who otherwise might not give serious thought to these careers. With access to the latest technology and professional STEM practices, the GEMS student experience is completely different from what most students see in an average classroom setting.

I know this from experience, because I was once one of those excited students. When I was in fifth grade, I participated in GEMS at the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory in Fort Rucker, Ala. Now, all these years later, I’m experiencing that excitement again through the eyes of my students. As a GEMS Near Peer Mentor (NPM) at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, I can relive the wonder of a student witnessing amazing science in practice.

Back when I was a fifth-grade student at Fort Rucker’s military air base, the curriculum was geared toward engineering and robotics. I remember how I would lose track of time while coding programs for our robots, running to watch the code in action as the robots moved and climbed. Our mentors, who were all college students or recent graduates, would give talks during lunch, giving us all a glimpse into college life. Hearing from peers who were a little wiser but still our contemporaries made those college prep talks exciting. They helped us consider our options, showing us what we could look forward to in classes, introducing us to the different majors we could consider, from dentistry to mechanical engineering to biology.

Years later, here I am at the Alabama School of Math and Science, preparing to go into the field of computer programming, taking classes like Advanced Placement Computer Science, Data Analysis and Python. I was excited when I arrived at Fort Sam Houston this summer and saw the types of robots the students would get to work with. As an NPM, I’m able to teach those students and further my learning at the same time. I remember watching one of my first groups of middle schoolers as they nervously gathered for their first tour of the facility, their classrooms suddenly transformed from rows of desks and chairs to massive machines. There’s a constant motion of scientists flocking back and forth. It’s not what they’re used to seeing in their typical classroom setting, but that is the beauty of a GEMS experience.

I see myself in the students that I mentor. I can see the gleam in their eyes as they learn about what the scientists are creating. Different GEMS campuses offer unique curriculum bases, and at this building students were focused primarily on the human body, its functions and how we work to repair it. Whether we’re studying animal cells in hopes of finding a cure for diseases or sitting in the dentist’s chair working on molars, students are naturally curious about how things are applied in “real life.” GEMS harnesses this curiosity and turns it into a passion and focus for students who are eager to learn, while connecting them to professionals.

Beyond the reward of inspiring students, NPMs have so much to gain. School teachers work with one class each year, but while I’m here, I get to bond with four groups in a month’s time, which allows for plenty of experience with a variety of kids at an accelerated pace. Like a teaching assistant in college, NPMs can work with students and develop curricula for courses.

The best way to learn is through experience, and that is what the GEMS program creates. Whether it’s studying cures to diseases or working on molars, there is constant motion and growth. In small groups, students get to perform and seek answers to everyday tasks. In larger groups, teachers and NPMs alike work with professionals in their fields, connecting with individuals who are accomplishing incredible things in careers they are passionate about. At the end of the week, on graduation day, I can guarantee the students are already planning to apply again for next year. I know I was.

NPM and resource teacher applications are now open for GEMS. Visit www.usaeop.com/programs.

Native Youth Embrace Junior Solar Sprint

Each year, the Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs (FGCIA) hosts a summer camp for Native youth hailing from across the state. The Florida Indian Youth Program is designed to expose youth to subjects they might not otherwise have the chance to experience. Students spend two weeks taking classes at Tallahassee Community College, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Florida State University. Classes cover traditional Native artistry, such as basket weaving, as well as the latest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

 

This past summer, the Governor’s Council added a bit of competition to the camp experience. Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program and the Technology Student Association, is a solar car competition for fifth- through eighth-grade students. Students design, build and race solar powered cars using hands-on engineering skills and principles of science and math. They develop teamwork and problem-solving abilities and investigate important environmental issues.

 

FGCIA invited local business owner and advocate Shawna Newman to lead the instruction. Newman, a Chickasaw native, was excited about running the program. Through her business, The NDN Companies, she had been working with FGCIA to bring more opportunities to Native youth throughout Florida.

 

Newman and her students took a unique approach to JSS; to further customize their cars from the standard kit pieces they received; she took her students dumpster diving at a local teacher supply recycle center. Students used what they found to decorate, personalize and test their cars. Just as important, students were able to use their unique strengths to contribute to each part of the process, from finding materials to building and racing. They even strengthened conflict resolution skills as they worked in small teams to test their vehicles. Though some students were initially apprehensive, JSS ended up being a favorite activity for many students in the camp.

 

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we celebrate—this month and year-round—programs that support Native youth. The Florida Indian Youth Program works with 40 to 50 students each year. FGCIA, The NDN Companies, and other organizations have been working to get Florida youth, especially Native Florida youth, more involved in STEM. They have partnered with Girls Inc., the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Panama City Post and schools located in rural areas to expand their reach.

 

For more information on JSS, visit the “Programs” page on our website.

From Mentee to Mentor: Apprenticeships Come Full Circle for REAP Mentor Dr. Bayne

Mentoring apprentices is a full circle for Stephen Bayne, Ph.D., associate chair for graduate studies and professor at Texas Tech University. Among his many positions at Texas Tech and previously at the Army Research Laboratory, one that he treasures most is that of mentor to high school students in the Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (REAP).

Bayne’s education and career paths, as he reports, were a non-traditional. He came to the United States at age 17 and later joined the Air Force, where he served in the Civil Engineering Squadron. He went to school to earn his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and worked a retail job at night. Along the way, one of his professors saw promise in him and offered Bayne a job in his lab under one condition: that Bayne continue his education to a master’s degree. This opportunity allowed Bayne to quit his retail job and focus solely on engineering, specifically power electronics, one of the fields that had funding during the ‘90s economic crash. Power electronics are used to control and transfer energy at high efficiency. Systems such as solar, wind and hybrid electric vehicles all use power electronics for power transfer and control, relying on what are called solid state switches to modulate the power flow. These solid state switches must be able to block high voltage, conduct high current and switch at high frequency. This work led him to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, positions in the Navy Research Lab and eventually the role of branch chief at the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi.

While working on some of the most cutting-edge research in powering satellites, solid state electronics and power electronics, Bayne promised himself he would go back to a university setting. Once again, Texas Tech came through and he returned as a tenure-track professor and member of the Center for Pulse Power and Power Electronics. Back in Texas, Bayne reached out to the Army and started the REAP program at TTU. Since the inception of the program, 31 high school student apprentices have participated. “Apprentices come with some interest in engineering and through the program gain hands-on experience and excitement to continue their work in engineering,” explains Bayne. “We teach them some background knowledge and then design experiments that challenge them to learn more.”  The program is also strongly supported by TTU’s electrical and computer engineering department.

REAP is one of three apprenticeship programs offered by the Army Educational Outreach Program. Forty-one universities across the country host REAP through 150 mentors. This number is sure to grow with the help Bayne, who is encouraging one of his former graduate students, now an assistant professor at another university, to apply to become a REAP mentor.

AEOP is now accepting applications for all of its apprenticeship programs. Visit http://www.usaeop.com/programs to learn more and apply.

Apprentices Take on Real Science and Engineering Research at SD Mines

By Sara Munro, Communications & Public Relations, Academy of Applied Science

Assisted by Dani Mason, Public Relations Officer, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

 

The Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (REAP) gives high school students hands-on experience in research labs at 41 universities across the country. Three South Dakota students were thrilled to dive into research this summer at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SD Mines).

 

Sponsored by the Army Education Outreach Program, SD Mines REAP apprentices worked alongside faculty and graduate students to research and develop: 3-D-printed rocket propellant; fusion bonds to make lighter, more fuel-efficient parts for the automotive and aerospace industries; and titanium biomedical implants that combat the body’s rejection of foreign objects.

 

Each of these three student stories demonstrates the importance of collaboration within research teams. Students engaged in highly technical, exciting work and discovered how everyone, from apprentice to graduate student to principal investigator, plays a part in innovation.

 

Apprentice: Rebecca

 

During her SD Mines REAP experience, Stevens High School senior Rebecca Watts worked with her research team to 3-D print rocket propellant, looking at the burn characteristics, with the goal of eventually 3-D printing a rocket engine. Watts’ research was co-sponsored by the SD Space Grant Consortium. “I really had no idea how incredible 3-D printing can be, how helpful it can be. I can 3-D print things that are almost impossible to weld or put together any other way, so it opens up a whole realm of possibilities in the future,” Watts said.

 

Teamwork was instrumental. Watts joined the research team of Nicholas Ritchie, an industrial engineering sophomore; Sharla Glover, a mechanical engineering senior; Derek Neubert, a chemical engineering graduate student; and Lori Groven, Ph.D., a chemical and biological engineering assistant professor. Ultimately, the team wants to apply what they’ve discovered to 3-D print any object using energetic materials, which range from explosives and rocket fuels to gasoline and pyrotechnics.

 

Apprentice: Enrique

Central High School junior Enrique Mandas researched fusion bonding using a tool called an ultrasonic spot welder. This tool uses the energy from high-frequency vibrations to instantly fuse plastics together. The goal is to use this bonded plastic material, called polypropylene, to provide a lighter, more fuel-efficient alternative to the heavier metal parts currently used in? by? automotive and aerospace industries. Mandas focused specifically on optimizing the joining process of the plastic materials in order to create the strongest bond.

 

Mandas was struck by the power of a small task – welding plastics together – to transform two huge industries. “You become a changemaker once you become a scientist or engineer. You can discover something big that will change the world or something small that will change your life.” Mandas worked with mentors Joseph Newkirk, a mechanical engineering graduate student, and Cassandra Degen, Ph.D., a mechanical engineering assistant professor.

 

Apprentice: Grayson

Sturgis High School senior Grayson Nelson worked to optimize orthopedic implants, such as those used in shoulder and knee replacements. The problem with implants is they have a large surface area and are under constant tension in the body. To combat this, SD Mines researchers created titanium oxide nanotubes, essentially titanium rust, to coat the implant, thereby decreasing the surface area under tension and allowing the implant to better integrate with the body.

 

Nelson took the research even further with Jevin Meyerink, a biomedical engineering graduate student, and Grant Crawford, Ph.D., associate professor in materials and metallurgical engineering. They added a fluorescent biological organism onto the nanotube in order to pinpoint the exact location of the tension. Then, they sent samples of their findings to South Dakota State University researchers, who inserted an antibiotic into the nanotubes to combat the body’s rejection of the implant.

 

“[Previously], I did an internship at the VA Hospital, and I loved the medical aspect. But I also want to do research. At Mines, I integrated metallurgical, biological and chemical engineering, and now I want to get a biochemical degree and go into the medical field,” Nelson said.

 

Click here for more photos of this year’s SD Mines REAP students.

 

Get Involved in REAP

Across the United States, 118 high school students participated in REAP this year. Applications for students open in winter for summer placements. Learn more about REAP and the participating universities here. [link: REAP program page]

Summer STEM to Penn

By Daniel Miller-Uueda, UNITE Site Director, GRASP Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania

 

In 2014, the University of Pennsylvania accepted its first class of Philadelphia public school students into the UNITE Summer Mentorship Program (SMP) in Robotics Leadership.  As we enter our fourth summer of UNITE programming, we want to pause and honor those students from our inaugural class who will be entering their first year of college this fall. They will be attending such institutions as Drexel University, Georgia Tech, Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, Howard University and Temple University, to name a few.

 

UNITE is a four-to six-week summer experience for talented high school students historically underrepresented and underserved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). UNITE encourages students to pursue college majors and careers in STEM-related fields through hands-on academics, enrichment and career exploration, while studying at some of the nation’s top colleges and universities.

 

One of those students, Anthony, will be staying on at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), joining the prestigious engineering program as a freshman in September. Entering an Ivy League engineering program was not a forgone conclusion for Anthony. When he started with UNITE, he was a quiet, rather shy, young man attending Carver High School in north Philadelphia who had dreams of becoming a software engineer. With little exposure to the field and a limited number of STEM courses offered at his school, he wasn’t sure whether he would be able to make his dreams become a reality. Thanks to his school guidance counselor, Anthony connected with the UNITE-SMP robotics program.

 

Through the UNITE-SMP robotics program, Anthony spent two summers building and programming robots that could complete autonomous tasks. He visited research facilities at Boeing and Lockheed Martin and received career advice from Army, Navy and industry engineers. Anthony successfully designed and developed a robot that could detect color-coded crates of waste and push them into disposal zones. The project was inspired by search and rescue applications that are common in robotics research.

 

UPenn’s UNITE-SMP robotics program is jointly funded by AEOP and UPenn’s Summer Mentorship Program. Each summer, 18 ninth and tenth grade students from Philadelphia’s public schools engage in a four-week deep dive into the world of robotics. Students learn about circuits, programming, CAD, engineering design, sensors and control systems. The program operates out of UPenn’s GRASP Laboratory, a premier academics and research center in robotics designed for student groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields.

 

The UNITE-SMP program embodies the same philosophy that makes many higher education laboratories such a unique and powerful place for innovation and groundbreaking research. Through UNITE, students like Anthony are given open-ended, inquiry-based, rigorous problems that require computational thinking to solve. Undergraduate and graduate mentors assist the students as they work through these problems and learn how to troubleshoot, analyze data, develop creative solutions and present conclusions to an audience of their peers.

 

For his final UNITE assignment, Anthony was asked to identify the one person he wanted to meet and list the questions he would ask him or her. For Anthony, that person was SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. His question: “Once you make the decision to become self-employed, at what point do you change your focus from changing your own life to improving the lives of others?”