Starting January 2nd, the STEM division hosted 25 students as part of the Winter Research Scholars Internship program. The two-week program, which ran from Tuesday, January 2, 2024, to Friday, January 12, 2024, in Skyline College’s Fab Lab, introduced students to scientific research, topics, and skills that will help them gain further research and industry internships in STEM. These outstanding students of different fields like computer science, biology, engineering, and chemistry majors convened to learn about STEM research and attended a variety of workshops. At the end of the 2-week program, students presented their engineering project that addressed their previously formulated research questions or problem statement.

The students were supported in their endeavors by May Han Hnin and Eden Huang, who helped out around the lab. They were of huge help and support to the students with their assignments and projects.
Alexa Moore and Laura DeKelaita from the Career Readiness and Job Placement Program provided valuable instruction on how to build a resume. They provided feedback on the students’ resumes and cover letters for upcoming internship applications. Students had the opportunity to participate in mock interviews during the second week of the program and received valuable feedback on how to structure their answers, what to focus on, and general interviewer expectations.

Besides these general career readiness preparations, students spent the first week mainly in the Fab Lab in BLDG 7 with Professors Marco Wehrfritz and Susanne Schubert. Students focused on learning about rapid prototyping using 3-D modeling and printing techniques, soldering, working with sensors and metrology, and programming with the Arduino microcontroller. As part of the internship’s professional growth and reflection component, students reflected on their learning and group interactions every day and reported on the status of their project.

In week two, the group was divided into six working groups, each working on an engineering project. As mentioned before, the projects were self-proposed by the participating students. This year, we had a huge bandwidth of creative and sophisticated ideas, all of which were Arduino-based and incorporated the Fab Lab’s programming, design, and manufacturing techniques. The students combined their skills and knowledge from the prior week to develop outstanding projects. Those included a notification device for posture correction, a set-up to detect volatile organic compounds for the early detection of urinary tract infections, a line-following car, a vehicle with remote-controlled movement and camera feed, a plant watering system, a quadcopter, and a sustainable house monitoring system.

On January 11th, the students took a virtual lab tour of San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) School of Engineering in the morning, learning about faculty research areas and the S-SMART summer engineering internship program.

On the program’s final day, every team presented their work in the STEM center. Each group delivered a presentation and demonstrated their prototypes to the group and faculty guests. They could apply the skills they learned and honed during the presentation skills workshop and reflect on their personal and academic development during this internship.

During their collaboration, the students experienced tremendous personal and academic growth. The groups were frequently mixed so that by the end of the program, everyone had the opportunity to collaborate with and meet everyone else in the program. Over time, the students learned to work as a team and established a supportive and collaborative environment, leading to them assisting one another even outside their project groups. Some students were so motivated by their accomplishments and learning outcomes that they thought about changing their majors, enrolling in more engineering classes, or getting their own Arduino to program on their own time.

The STEM Pathways project, a collaborative grant project funded by the US Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (DHSI) program, supports the Winter Research Scholars program (award No. P031S180169). Nicholas Langhoff, Marco Wehrfritz, and Dr. Susanne Schubert, the coordinators, would like to thank Nadia Tariq, Luis Prado, Bryan Swartout, Rita Gulli, and Dr. Jing Folsom for their tremendous behind-the-scenes support. The organizers would also like to thank their colleagues at SFSU, Dr. Wenshen Pong, Dr. Quintero, Dr. Ghose, Dr. Chen, Dr. Wong, Dr. Wang, Dr. Zhang, Dr. Qin, and Dr. Khalkhal, for sharing their research with us and for the school’s long-standing collaboration with Skyline College.

Article by Marco Wehrfritz, and Dr. Susanne Schubert
Picture May Han Hnin

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