Grant to bring underrepresented engineering students from other universities here for summer research


Xerox Research Fellow Rebecca Gillie tells Upward Bound students about her research project at a poster session this summer. (Photo by J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester)

The University of Rochester has received a $380,000 National Science Foundation grant that will allow underrepresented engineering students from other institutions to do summer research at Rochester, in a program that closely mirrors one that has prepared many of the Hajim School's own engineering students for graduate school.

The funding will support 12 students a year for each of three years. The theme will be “Human Health: Nano to Network.”

Underrepresented minority and women engineering students from other institutions will be recruited to participate in a summer REU (research experience for undergraduates) that mirrors the Kearns Center's Xerox Engineering Research Fellows Program. The program gives rising juniors and seniors in the Hajim School a summer hands-on, faculty-mentored introduction to the kind of research that is integral to graduate work.

The research experience is combined with professional development and GRE exam preparation. Thirty-nine percent of the 184 students have been female and 24 percent have been underrepresented minority students. About 60 percent of Xerox fellows have subsequently enrolled in graduate school.

The hope is that many of the students coming from other institutions through the REU program will choose to apply to Rochester for graduate school.

“They will have had a great experience here. They will have lived here for a summer. And they will have met a lot of different people,” Olivares says. For example, the students will have lunch each week with a different Hajim School faculty member, hearing about his or her research and career.

Unlike most REU programs, which are limited to single departments, this one spans multiple departments within the Hajim School. And it will be administered by the Kearns Center, not an academic department, which broadens the scope of the program.

“The REU students will participate alongside our own Xerox fellows, doing research in the lab and taking professional development courses, exploring topics ranging from the culture of the academy, to the responsible conduct of research, to entrepreneurship, as well as having access to our GRE prep program,” says Wendi Heinzelman, dean of the Hajim School.

“The exciting thing about this program is that we’ll be bringing additional students to campus in summer, creating a diverse and dynamic student culture that will foster networking, mentoring, and social interactions among the UR students and the REU students as well as between the students and faculty. This will really enhance the summer experience for all involved.”