|Volume 7, Issue 1 -
"Spend a Summer" Students Make Personal and Professional Gains this Summer
The "Spend a Summer with a Scientist" (SaS) program began at Rice University in 1989 with the goal of encouraging minority undergraduates to attend graduate school in computational science and engineering. Through the years, this program has created a community of undergraduates, graduate students, research scientists, and faculty who have supported and encouraged each other in their research projects and professional goals. As a result, the program is measured not only in the number and types of projects completed by the students, but in the personal experiences they have gained as well.
Several students reflected on these experiences in their final reports for the 1993 program. Many found that working in an academic setting changed their attitudes about graduate school. Stacey Crear, an undergraduate participant who worked with Doug Moore on computer graphics research said, "This program gave me some direction." Felicia Woodard shared this feeling, having worked with graduate student Anthony Kearsley on a computational mathematics project. "I had the chance to work with someone who is closer to my level," she said. "It made it easier to work and learn. He totally changed my way of thinking as far as graduate school is concerned."
Working in a collaborative environment was also a beneficial part of the research experience. Christina Villalobos, an undergraduate at the University of Texas, worked with elementary school teachers as part of the Rice University School Mathematics Project. She found the experience "outstanding" because "The entire staff worked together and shared ideas to improve the quality of the program." She also enjoyed getting feedback on her research project from other students in the program.
Edward Smith Eusery liked the collaborative environment because it offered opportunities to network with students, faculty, and researchers. "It gives many minorities the chance to see what the world beyond undergraduate school is all about." Exposure to new areas of research was another professional gain made by students in the program. By working with Joel Castellanos of the CRPC, Steven Harris "was exposed to several new programming languages with which [he] was not familiar."
Stacey Crear credits the program's organizer, Richard Tapia, in part for her own personal satisfaction with her research experience. "Many undergraduate students find it difficult to discuss [professional] issues with their professors for various reasons," she said. "SaS professors spend time with us because Dr. Tapia searches for those professors who are interested in working with students."
Undergraduates who would like more information on the "Spend a Summer with a Scientist" program or other CRPC undergraduate programs should contact Theresa Chatman, 713-348-5180 , 713-348-3111 (fax), email@example.com .
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