STEM PathwaysEarlier this winter, the Science, Math and Technology Division along with the Engineering Department piloted the inaugural STEM Pathways Research Scholars Program to empower students of historically underrepresented minority backgrounds. The program focused on introductory research skills, academic engagement, internship applications, transfer preparedness, teamwork and developing a stronger sense of self-reliance and sense of community within our campus STEM programs.

Held January 2nd through January 11th in the Base11 Innovation Center, the program supported 26 participants (mostly first-year and rising second-year students). Program activities helped students develop skills in electronics, microcontroller programming, signal conditioning, data acquisition and supplemental topics in MATLAB programming and simulations.

Activities in the first week prepared the scholars for STEM research: exploring the research process, analyzing scientific papers, and developing and delivering technical presentation in STEM. The university transfer process was also explored to reduce students’ transfer anxiety and become “four-year ready”.

During the second week, the scholars were given semi open-ended design projects to create a device that used sensors to measure physical stimulus and provide a designated output. On-hand physics and engineering lab equipment were used to facilitate device manufacturing. Students presented their projects and live demonstrations on the second to last day of the program. The program concluded with a tour of San Francisco State University’s School of Engineering to gain insight on research in seismic/structural engineering, bio-electronics, intelligent computing and embedded systems as well as an orientation on the transfer process for engineering students.

Toward helping students prepare stronger internship applications, members of Workforce and Career Programs, Steven Lopez and Lauren Dekelaita, held a session on framing resumes for technical jobs and using LinkedIn profiles to enhance their Skyline College Alumni and STEM network. Surgical Technology Lead, Alice Erksine and the Dean of Science, Math and Technology, Ray Hernandez, shared related experience and equipment demonstrations on measurement devices and sensor technology that are used in the medical industry.

During recruitment, program benefits and incentives were highlighted, including compensation for work performed ($600) as well as the opportunity to gain introductory research experience. Upon selection of student participants, priority consideration was given to students from underrepresented minority backgrounds.

Upon completion of the program, a post-program survey was administered with a brief wrap up meeting. Skyline College aims to use the experiences of these scholars to further strengthen the program for future cohorts.

The STEM Pathways Research Scholars program is part of Skyline College’s newly funded grant project Strengthening Pathways to Success in STEM (SP2S – STEM Pathways Program): a collaborative project between Skyline College’s Engineering department and San Francisco State University. The project is funded through a five-year $3,750,000 grant from the Department of Education Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Title V Program. With a large focus on supporting the college’s upcoming and highly anticipated STEM center, the STEM Pathways project is designed to improve and expand STEM educational opportunities and improve overall academic achievement for underrepresented and low-income students.

Article by Maryam Khan and Nick Langhoff

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