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Educational Outreach Nugget

Educational collaboration: Engaging community students in materials research at MIT

RCC students (left to right) Olumide Adepotu, Oluwayemisi Afere, Damali Omalade, April Bell, and Tolulope Alabi participated in the 2005 program. After ten weeks engaged in research, the students presented their results at a public poster session.

In the summer of 2005, the MIT MRSEC, in collaboration with Roxbury Community College (RCC), launched a new education program to provide local community college students with opportunities to experience research firsthand and explore careers in materials science and engineering. The program also seeks to address the underrepresentation of certain minority groups in science and engineering by encouraging students from local minority-rich community colleges to pursue advanced degrees. With the assistance of Dean Raymond Turner of RCC, five students were selected to spend ten weeks engaged in materials research at MIT. Each student joined a faculty-led group of graduate students, postdocs, and undergraduates to work on current research problems. Research topics ranged from the synthesis of metal nanoparticles with high protein resistance suitable for drug delivery to water modeling of a new titanium extraction process.

In addition to conducting research, the RCC students attended weekly Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) meetings. These meetings consisted of research progress reports from the students, as well as guest speakers on topics such as graduate school admission strategies, intellectual property, research funding and preparation of poster presentations. The director and staff held additional meetings with the RCC students to discuss their research progress, provide support and advice, and solicit feedback on the program. Finally, the RCC students joined the other REU and Research Experience for Teachers (RET) participants to present their research in a joint poster session at the end of the summer.

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