NEES Ambassadors / NEES Undergraduate Research Pathway Program
These two programs recruit underrepresented minority students from universities across the nation and expose them to NEES programs and to the academic engineering community. Program activities prepare students for careers in STEM fields, and provide a career path to earthquake engineering.
NEES Ambassadors Program at Howard University
NEES Education, Outreach and Training (EOT) faculty provide support and direction for the Ambassador Program at Howard University, an Historically Black College or University (HBCU).
The principal activity for NEES Ambassadors, typically undergraduates at Howard, is participating in educational events such as the annual Discover Engineering Family Day held at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
Ambassadors develop skills to set up and operate complex educational displays, such as a tsunami wave tank or table-top shake table. As engineering docents, the students learn to communicate scientific concepts effectively with the lay public, serve as model representatives for their university, and generally serve as advocates for academic careers in STEM fields.
More than 100 Howard University students have participated in this highly successful program since its inception in 2011. Many NEES Ambassadors have become leaders in their engineering programs, and many have been accepted into the prestigious NEES Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program.
NEES EOT is currently working to secure new sources of funding in order to continue this program at Howard beyond 2014.
NEES Undergraduate Research Pathway (NURP) Program at Morgan State University and University of Texas, El Paso
In 2013 the NEES EOT team initiated partner relationships with Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, an HBCU, and with the University of Texas–El Paso, an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). The goal of the NURP Program is to construct academic pathways that promote a diverse cohort of future researchers in earthquake engineering.
Working with engineering faculty at these schools, NEES EOT engages engineering students in activities designed to:
1. develop undergraduate students’ STEM skills,
2. cultivate academic attitudes,
3. and perform research with engineering faculty mentors.
The NURP curriculum consists of the following:
- NEES research participation. Mentored by faculty at their own institutions, students participate in NEES research projects remotely through analysis of data and development of companion simulations. One example is the NEES-Soft project led by NEES researcher John van de Lindt at Colorado State University; another is a structural health monitoring project led by Anne Kiremidjian at Stanford University.
- Exposure to research. Students at both schools participated in webinars to introduce them to NEES research and the opportunities offered by the NEES REU program.
- Lab visits. To provide in-person understanding of NEES, students visit a NEES site. In particular, MSU students visited the Lehigh University NEES site, and UTEP students visited the University of Nevada, Reno NEES site.
- Poster presentations. Students present their research at the end of the semester in the form of WebEx-based poster presentations in which both schools participate together using web-based meeting methods.