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Stories from...2018

Christine Shenouda Studies Impact of Gender Stereotype Threat on Girls' Performance and Interest in Math

January 22, 2018

“I’m a girl, so I’m not very good at math.”

This gender stereotype is a common misconception that's pervasive in today's society. According to Christine Shenouda, in her Ph.D. dissertation entitled, Effects of Gender Stereotypes on Children’s Beliefs, Interests, and Performance in STEM Fields, this gender stereotype can have a devastating effect on girls when they’re reminded of it just before taking a math test. This is called gender stereotype threat. But while this stereotype—girls aren’t good at math—isn’t true, girls who have always done well in math—even those whose favorite subject is math—can still fall prey to its insidious influence.

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Heredia at work in Erik Procko’s development lab.MCB’s Jeremiah Heredia: Passionate about HIV-1 Research, STEM Outreach to Underserved

February 8, 2018

Jeremiah Heredia hasn’t always been as passionate about science as he is now. In fact, as a kid, he didn’t like it one bit. “Not at all,” he admits. “I wasn’t into science at all.” Actually, he wanted to be a baseball player…a second baseman, to be precise. Nowadays, however, instead of pulling on a baseball glove, the fourth year Biochemistry PhD student is pulling on vinyl lab gloves. But he’s still competitive. However, instead of trying to beat an opposing little league team, he’s moved on up to the big leagues and is going after an even bigger W. He hopes to beat some of the major diseases plaguing our society, like HIV-1, for instance. And when he’s not in the lab, he’s out doing something else he’s passionate about…getting underserved students excited about science.

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Joe Muskin shows off a 3D printed object one of the GAMES campers made on the 3D printer they designed and builMechSE Outreach Guru Joe Muskin Exposes Teachers, Students of All Ages to STEM Education

February 15, 2018

If you make the rounds of campus outreach very often, you will soon discover that one of the constants in the STEM-education-outreach universe is Joe Muskin. Education Coordinator for Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE), Muskin is an outstanding ambassador, both for his department and for the University. A tireless, creative teacher, he’s come up with innovative ways to communicate the material he’s teaching for the countless STEM education activities he’s been involved in. From teachers, to current Illinois students, to high school students, to elementary (and even pre-school) students, he’s broadened the knowledge of those he’s worked with about specific areas of engineering as well as STEM outreach. Regarding long-term impacts, he’s helped to pique participants’ interest in engineering and STEM education/outreach and has helped to recruit students into engineering, STEM, and to Illinois.

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Students Hone Their Research Skills, Learn From Experts at NGS's 2018 Science & Engineering Fair

February 22, 2018

It was Friday, February 16th, 2018, the day of “Exploring Our Potential,” the Next Generation School’s (NGS) long-anticipated 2018 Science and Engineering Fair. The students finally got to stand in front of the poster they’d meticulously labored over and present the results of their research to a community expert. But while the experts had been instructed to give students not just positive feedback, but also things they could have done better or could improve upon, no doubt when mom and dad listened to their spiel during the evening session, they got only rave reviews.

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The 2018 Insect Fear Film Festival Helps Visitors Combat Fears and Entomophobias

February 28, 2018

Got a kid who is fascinated with insects? Conversely, got a kid who has a panic attack every time he or she even sees a bug? (Or, let’s get real, are you yourself perhaps a bit leery of them?) Do you love mocking really bad, really cheesy films—in this case, B horror flicks about insects? Folks who could answer “Yes!” to one or more of the above questions showed up at Foellinger Auditorium on Saturday, February 24th for the 35th Annual Insect Fear Film Festival (IFFF). Hosted by the EGSA (Entomology Graduate Student Organization), the festival not only exposed the around 500+ visitors to films about insects. Through both fun and educational activities, it possibly helped them overcome some unfounded fears and/or learn how to nurture “good” insects. And hopefully, participants left a bit more knowledgeable about insects in general…and about the star of the show, the Tick.

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At Introduce-a-Girl-to-Engineering Day, High School Girls Discover What Engineering Is, That They Can Do It

March 1, 2018

On Saturday February 17th, 2018, around 70 high school girls and their families converged on Illinois’ Loomis Laboratory for Introduce-A-Girl-to-Engineering Day (IGED), sponsored by SWE (Society for Women Engineers). And on hand to introduce these girls to their field and their respective majors were dozens of engineering students, members of the different engineering RSOs (Registered Student Organizations) who helped with the event. However, SWE not only offered the girls a chance to learn about the different engineering disciplines they could specialize in, plenty of female role models were on hand to inspire and boost the confidence of these budding engineers. “Engineering Everywhere, Engineering Everyday” was the theme for this year’s IGED, which is always the largest outreach event that SWE sponsors all year.

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Centennial High senior, Edward Lu, getting the laptops set up to display the laser light shows.Team of Educators, Students Design Flashy New Lesson Activity—a Laser Light Show—to Teach UMS Students Coordinate Math…and a Whole Lot More

March 5, 2018

In a fun, exciting way to learn math using cutting-edge technology, on Friday, March 2nd, two of Jason Pound’s 8th grade algebra classes at Urbana Middle School used coordinate math to design a shape which was then displayed using a laser light show. And almost as spectacular as the light show itself was the number of people, both on and off campus, who were involved in various ways to contribute to what MechSE Education Coordinator Joe Muskin calls, “a really cool outreach activity.”

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Physics Professor Nadya Mason, PI of the I-MRSEC grant.I-MRSEC: Creating a Multidisciplinary Materials Research Community

March 15, 2018

"The more that people understand the scientific basis of the world and of their lives and of what people are doing and researching and care about, the more we care about each other and the more we support each other." – Nadya Mason

Begun in September 2017, I-MRSEC (Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center), a new NSF-funded center, seeks to create a community around multidisciplinary materials science research, recruiting and educating the next generation of researchers, including diverse students, and informing the general public through outreach. Funded through NSF’s Division of Materials, the Center will receive $16 million over the six years of the grant, with the possibility of being renewed.

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Austin Steinforth, Electrical Engineering Ph.D. student, has been presenting his Self-siphoning beads demo every year at EOH.Engineering Open House 2018 Encourages Visitors to Consider Engineering’s Impact Both Today and Tomorrow

March 15, 2018

On March 9–10, 2018, thousands of visitors flooded the University of Illinois campus to participate in EOH 2018: Drafting the Future: classes on field trips, parents who played hookey from work and brought their kids, high school students considering Engineering at Illinois. And there to meet them were hundreds of proud Engineering students, eager to show off what they’ve been learning or researching.

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MCB PhD student Andie LiuAt NGS’ Science Social Café, MCBees Women Serve as Role Models, Exemplify Careers in Science

March 19, 2018

On Thursday March 9th, six MCB PhD students briefly put the work in their labs on hold to drop by the Science Social Café at Next Generation School’s STEAM Studio in Champaign. There, while a group of 11 middle school girls (and one boy) ate their lunches, they served as role models, explained a bit about how they ended up in science, shared what doing research as an MCB graduate student at Illinois is like, and described their career goals and other possible careers in their field. Plus, they were available to answer any of the younger students’ questions. The goal of the event? According to STEAM Studio Director Angela Nelson, it was to “break the boundary of ‘You could be a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer,’” and open the youngsters up to the myriad possible careers, such as in science and research.

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SACNAS Advances Latina/o Students in Science Via an Outreach for Local Youngsters—Ciencias!

March 22, 2018

The 20 or so kids who showed up at the Champaign Public Library for Ciencias! on Saturday, March 17th, were exposed to more than just hands-on science activities. Sponsored by the Illinois chapter of SACNAS (the Society for Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science), the outreach also gave young participants the chance to hear the activities in not just English, but Spanish, which, for a number, was their native language. Plus, even more importantly, presenting the activities were Latino/Latina students, which afforded many of the youngsters the chance to see students of color—people who looked like them—doing science.

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Illinois Latina/o Students in Science Find Community, Opportunities, & Outreach Through SACNAS

March 23, 2018

SACNAS, the Illinois chapter of the Society for Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science, is an integral part of a number of Hispanic students' campus experience. For both graduate students, as well as undergrads, it is a support system, not only academically and professionally, but socially. Plus, for students who would like to increase the number people of color in science, it provides opportunities for outreach to youngsters, including some who look like them.

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A particpant during the string art workshopMiddle School Girls Experience Math’s Role in Art During GEMS Workshops

March 27, 2018

What do origami, tessellation, and string art have to do with math? Hoping to find out, a number of local 6th–9th graders participated in the GEMS (Girls Engaged in Math and Science) Workshops which ran for four Saturdays in a row (February 10th through March 3rd). Held in Altgeld Hall in the heart of the Illinois campus (and the Pottery Place in Champaign), GEMS allowed a group of girls to experience first-hand some of the ways math can play a role in art. And besides teaching participants that math is more than rote memorization and repetition, the goal of GEMS was to show the girls that math is all around them, to help them meet other local students interested in math, and to expose them to female mathematicians who might serve as role models.

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NGS’ Science Social Café Exposes Girls to Women in Science—Broadens Narrow Notions About Careers in Science

March 30, 2018

Most Thursdays, eleven middle school girls from Next Generation School can be found at the school’s brand new Science Social Café Club, chatting over lunch with local women who are scientists. Besides learning about different potential careers, as the girls hear how these women got to where they are today, they’re also absorbing some pointers about discovering their own careers. Some key ideas they’ve learned are: 1) If you discover that you don’t really like what you originally planned to do, it’s ok to change your mind. 2) You can fashion a career out of some very disparate disciplines. 3) If there’s something you love and are passionate about, you just might be able to make a career out of it.

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Engineering Ambassadors’ Speaking Competition Helps Students Polish Their Communication Skills

April 11, 2018

Illinois’ Engineering Ambassadors (EA) are serious about being able to speak well in order to communicate to others about engineering. But they also want to help others, including those in other STEM fields, to express themselves well when they communicate. So on Saturday, April 7th, during the Engineering Ambassadors’ Fourth Annual Speaking Competition—SpeakUp!—four finalists, armed with PowerPoints and well prepared by their EA mentors, stood before five judges and spoke for around seven minutes about the "Advancement of Technology in an Engineering Discipline and its Impact and Future Implications in Society." Their goal? To compete and win a prize, of course, but, even more importantly, to improve their public speaking.

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Local Dads and Their Daughters Have an Incredible Time Doing Science at DADDS

April 13, 2018

On a fun, daddy-daughter date that was not just relational, but also educational, around 30 or so local fathers and their daughters showed up the Mechanical Engineering Lab on Saturday, April 7th, for SWE’s DADDS (Dads and Daughters Do Science) event. The event was geared towards having 1st–3rd grade girls bond with their dads while exploring science and engineering via fun, hands-on activities and challenges. The long-term goal was to pique the young girls’ interest in science and to encourage them that—like the Incredibles (the theme of the event) and supported by their real-life heroes, their dads—they too could someday do amazing feats in science and engineering.

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Club Insecta Provides Community, Resources, Outreach—and Lots of Time Out in the Fresh Air Collecting Bugs

April 13, 2018

One would assume that Club Insecta is comprised solely of Entomology students; however, that’s not the case. All one needs to join is to be an Illinois undergraduate student. While having an avid interest in insects might be expected, that, too, is not a prerequisite. In fact, that might crop up after hanging around club members for a while. Besides fostering a love of insects, the RSO (Registered Student Organization) provides its members a sense of community based on an interest in insects and a fervent desire to see its oft-maligned namesake—the insect—gain some appreciation, or at least grudging respect, from the general public. And of course, a huge perk is getting to ditch one’s books and spend some time out in the fresh air and sunshine gathering insects with a net, which significantly adds to the club’s appeal for its members.

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Engineering Ambassadors Instills a Love of Communicating About Engineering—Both Inside of the Classroom and Out

April 23, 2018

The current president of Engineering Ambassadors (EA), Sara Kochanski, would tell you that through the organization, she’s gained a desire to teach, improved her speaking and leadership skills, acquired self-confidence, and made friends. In fact, she’s loved being an Engineering Ambassador so much that she hopes to do it for the rest of her life (unofficially, of course, and not necessarily on the Illinois campus). She intends to remain an ambassador for engineering and to keep sharing her passion for the field with youngsters day in day out…as a teacher. “Engineering Ambassadors has turned me into what I am today,” she acknowledges. “I know it's odd for someone in engineering to switch.”

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MCBees Expose Jefferson Middle School Students to “Cool” Science Activities

April 23, 2018

Helping to bring the material in science textbooks alive, and maybe even introduce some stuff not found in textbooks, eight MCB PhD students have been dropping by Jefferson Middle School during the spring 2018 semester to share their expertise with eighth graders. Slated to visit twice a month, from February through May, the Illinois students, members of the MCBees GSA (Graduate Student Association), were tasked with presenting various topics and leading some corresponding hands-on activities in Sammy Yoo and Elizabeth Wheatman’s eighth-grade classrooms. Their goal? To foster interest in science and maybe even impart their own passion for research to the younger students.

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NCSA Intern Named U of I Student Employee of the Year

April 23, 2018

Each year, the Office of Student Financial Aid coordinates the University of Illinois Student Employee of the Year contest and recognition event to recognize outstanding contributions made by undergraduate student employees on campus. This year, out of more than 10,000 undergraduate student employees, the Advanced Visualization Lab's (AVL) SPIN intern Dawn Anh Nguyen, was named 2018 Student Employee of the Year. "I was astounded about the result, for there were so many other talented students who were also nominated, and I am more than thankful and happy," Nguyen said.

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Engineering’s Undergraduate Research Office Encourages Undergrads to Experience Research

April 25, 2018

Tasha Mamaril has her finger on the pulse of research for Engineering undergrads. As the Coordinator of Engineering’s Undergraduate Research Office, she provides information to engineering students about what kinds of opportunities are available. Plus, she oversees two of Engineering’s specific research programs for undergrads: MUSE (Mentoring Undergraduates in Science and Engineering) and the Illinois Scholars Undergraduate Research (ISUR) program, which provides scholarships for students addressing research related to the interests of the corporations which fund the program.

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ISUR Poster Expo Showcases Engineering Scholars' Research

April 25, 2018

On Wednesday, April 18th, 26 engineering students who have been participating in the Illinois Scholars Undergraduate Research (ISUR) program had a chance to present about the research they’ve been conducting during the 2017–2018 academic year. For the scholars, the opportunity to do research in the lab of one of Illinois' world-class researchers not only exposed them to what research is like, but gave them a window into whether research itself, or the topic they'd been studying over the last year, might be a part of their career plans down the road.

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Undergrad presents his research during the undergraduate research week symposiumUndergraduate Research Week Showcases Illinois Undergraduate Students' Research

May 1, 2018

“The research process includes presentation; that’s something you need to learn how to do!” – Karen Rodriguez'G

As part of their research experience, around 1000 undergraduate students from across campus got a chance to hone their presentation skills during Illinois’ fourth annual Undergraduate Research Week on April 15th–21st. Students from a variety of disciplines across campus presented the research they’ve been conducting over this past semester or academic year. While the week featured a variety of events showcasing research or capstone projects in a number of units, its signature event was the Undergraduate Research Symposium, where the students who presented shared that along with learning a great deal about their topic and specific research methodology, their research experience also gave them insight into what they might want to do careerwise.

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Tyler Haddock (left) and a STEAM Studio student watch as two marshmallows expand as a vacuum is created in the bell jar.Van der Veen Team Teaches STEAM Studio Students Why Air Pressure Variations and Vacuums Warrant Wacky Weather

May 3, 2018

What happens to balloons in a bell jar when you remove the air pressure and create a vacuum? What happens to marshmallows? The liquid in a barometer? How do these relate to our weather?

A number of STEAM Studio third–fifth graders discovered the answers to these questions and more when two PhD students from Chemistry Professor Renske van der Veen’s lab visited on Wednesday, April 25th and Friday, April 27th. Because the goal of Next Generation Schools’ after-school program is to emphasize STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math [STEM], along with Art), Tyler Haddock and Ryan Cornelius dropped by to present some scientific demos about air pressure—and how these different air pressure and vacuum effects are related to the weather—as part of Steam Studio’s Wacky Weather Week.

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Joy Chen at work in Professor Erik Nelson's lab (photo courtesy of Ashley Lawrence). ResearcHStart Promotes the Next Generation of Scientists by Exposing Local High School Students to Cancer Research

May 9, 2018

When the American Cancer Society discontinued its program exposing high school students to cancer research in laboratories, philanthropists Deborah and Ira Cohen, he's an Illinois CS alumni and she's a huge advocate for cancer research, said to each other: “I wonder if we could do something about that?” So they did. In 2015, they began researcHStart, a program which allows Illinois high school students to discover what a career in cancer research might be like via authentic research experiences in cutting-edge laboratories at Illinois and other campuses in the state.

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An ME370 student prepares to race his automaton.ME370’s Final Competition—March of the Automata—Fosters MechSE Students’ Creativity, Perseverance, and Teamwork

May 11, 2018

It was noon on Wednesday, May 2nd on Engineering Quad, and the hopes and dreams of a group of Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE) students were riding on the little robot they’d built for the ME370 projects course final competition: the March of the Automata. Their motivation? If their team’s automaton won the race, they’d not only have bragging rights, but they’d get a bye on the upcoming final exam.

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Urbana High Athletes Explore Careers in Applied Health Sciences During AHS Day

May 21, 2018

On Friday, May 4th, around 20 Urbana High School athletes, along with their coaches, visited Illinois’ College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS) for I-STEM’s first ever AHS Day. During their visit, students were introduced to folks from the four different AHS departments (Speech & Hearing Science; Community Health/Health Sciences; Kinesiology; and Recreation, Sport, & Tourism). There, the high school students not only learned some things they hadn’t known before about the various presenters’ research areas, but they were also introduced to some possible college majors they’ve most likely never considered before. Plus, they also got to meet some of the College’s students, including a few athletes, and find out what it’s like to be a student in AHS at Illinois.

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Centennial High Sophomores Experience Engineering/Entrepreneurship Courtesy of ME598 Grad Student Mentors

May 22, 2018

Dream of being on Shark Tank in a few years, lauding the merits of the unique product you designed and are marketing? Some budding young entrepreneurs from Centennial High School just might. For the second year in a row, these students in the AVID program had a chance to be mentored by Illinois Engineering grad students as part of the spring 2018 ME 598: Sustainable Engineering Outreach course. Facilitated by IRISE (the Illinois partnership for Respecting the Identities of Students in Engineering), the course was a win-win for both groups of participants. The six grad students had a chance to share their love of engineering and gain some skills regarding engineering outreach to underserved students. The Centennial 10th graders not only learned more about engineering and what it takes to be an entrepreneur, but networked with college students who could serve as mentors, not just now, but in the coming years. Plus, they gained some poster-making, presentation skills as they presented their posters at I-RISE’s May 2nd Final Poster Presentation/Awards Ceremony.

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Illinois Robotics in Space Launches Conversation on NASA and Member Experience

May 23, 2018

The word “lunatic” comes from madness caused by the moon, and the students here at Illinois are certainly crazy for the Illinois Robotics in Space (IRIS). A multidisciplinary RSO (registered student organization), IRIS recently participated in the NASA Robotic Mining Competition on May 14–18, 2018 at the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral where they were one of 56 teams this year. The goal of the competition was for the robots to autonomously mine gravel as if they were on Mars. In the future, these models could be used to mine icy regolith on the Red Planet, which could potentially help provide oxygen, fuel, and water for settlers.

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I-MRSEC’s Alda Scientific Communication Workshop Trains Scientists to Relate to Their Audience

May 30, 2018

What might fun, team-building exercises have to do with communicating? In keeping with one of its chief goals—improving science communication—the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (I-MRSEC)) held “Making the Choice to Connect,” an all-day workshop on Friday, May 18th. Presented by Lydia Franco-Hodges from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, the workshop sought to improve participants’ communication skills by training them to practice relating to others.

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The (Future) Doctor is in the House: Meet an Illinoisan in the Inaugural Carle Illinois medical program

May 30, 2018

What do being a librarian and a doctor have in common? Elizabeth Woodburn has considered both as potential careers. But it is the latter that she will be pursuing as a member of the first ever Carle Illinois College of Medicine class. She is one of two of her 32 peers to hail from the state of Illinois. Coming from Winnetka, IL, Woodburn graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Bioengineering this May. Although her parents encouraged her to look outside the state, she followed in their footsteps and became an Illini. At first, joining a large institution like Illinois seemed daunting, but Woodburn found what she calls “wonderful, small pockets of people within the big school”.

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Building a Bridge to a Better Tomorrow: The 2018 National Student Steel Bridge Competition

June 1, 2018

Would you participate in a national competition to build bridges simply for braggin’ rights? Barkin Kurumoglu, the National Co-director of the 2018 National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC) and a student here at the University of Illinois, certainly seems to think so. He claims “The unspoken goal is for schools to show who is better at civil engineering”. Lafayette College walked away with that honor, followed by California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo in second place, and École de technologie supérieure in third place. The participants of the 42 teams in this year’s competition came from all over the nation, based on their scoring in the regionals. Some teams were even from other countries such as Canada, Puerto Rico and China.

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OUR Seeks to Change the Perception of What Undergraduate Research at Illinois Looks Like

June 4, 2018

Exactly what is undergraduate research at Illinois? Is it one undergrad working in a lab? Is it a research-focused course with a capstone project? Is it not just a project, but a process? To all of the above, Karen Rodriguez’G, both the Interim and the Associate Director of the university’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) says, “Yes!”

Rodriguez’G wears a couple of different hats at OUR. As Associate Director, she oversees the day-to-day function of the office. But as Interim Director, she describes her role as “forward facing for the campus—I am essentially the person in the office that faces everyone on campus.” For example, she works with higher ups, such as the heads of the university’s eleven research institutes, to discover what undergrad research looks like for them, what sort of partnerships can be put in place, and how her office can help to provide opportunities for students. Plus, she serves on several committees that address these issues as well.

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By Women, for Women: Kristina Allen Discusses Her Research in Women’s Health

June 4, 2018

When most people think of anthropology majors, they may not picture them in a research lab. But rising senior Kristina Allen doesn’t let stereotypes cramp her style. She studies biological anthropology, which explores concepts ranging from human evolution to human biosocial variation from a scientific perspective. Her research focuses on reproductive ecology, and she jokes that she may be the first woman to ever say, “I love menstruation.” Allen held a love for science throughout her school years, and originally wanted to be a doctor, but switched out of premed after taking a few anthropology courses and realizing that her passion lay elsewhere. She seems to have found her niche, saying “I love what I do now.”

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SPHERES Fosters the Next Generation of Scientists and Engineers Via Research Opportunities for Local High School Students

June 20, 2018

Getting paid to assist world-renowned scientists with their upcoming research projects and expanding your horizons while preparing for college? Sounds like a win-win for Illinois and local area high schoolers. New this summer, SPHERES (Sparking High Schoolers’ Excitement for Research in Engineering and Science) aims to engage local community high school students in an opportunity to gain research experience at a world-class research university under the mentorship of several people that are invested fostering the next generation of scientists and engineers.

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Suzanne PetersonAerospace Engineering Junior Suzanne Peterson Returns to G.A.M.E.S. Camp

June 13, 2018

Most undergraduates rarely get an opportunity to participate in an immersive experience relating to their future career paths as early as high school. But rising senior Suzanne Peterson is a 5-time veteran of the University of Illinois G.A.M.E.S. camp, having first attended when it was still open to middle school students. Girls’ Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science (G.A.M.E.S.) is an annual, week-long event which allows high school girls to explore scientific ideas through demonstrations and activities. This year, Peterson will be on the other side of the event as a lab assistant who teaches several classes and sessions. Her own experiences at these camps as a young girl opened up the possibility of studying engineering, and she wants to pay it forward, saying, “I'm really passionate about outreach, and I would like to be [an inspiration] for somebody else.”

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SPHERES 2018 CohortSPHERES Fosters the Next Generation of Scientists and Engineers Via Research Opportunities for Local High School Students

June 4, 2018

Are you a local high school students who'd like to get paid to assist world-renowned scientists with their cutting-edge research plus expand your horizons while preparing for college? If so, you might want to consider SPHERES (Sparking High Schoolers’ Excitement for Research in Engineering and Science), which sounds like a win-win, both for Illinois and the students. New this summer, SPHERES aims to engage local community high school students in an opportunity to gain research experience at a world-class research university under the mentorship of several people who are invested in fostering the next generation of scientists and engineers.

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Local kids play Orphy's Escape to Space in the Orpheum's new Astronomy Kids' CornerOrpheum Launches New Astronomy Kids' Corner With Help from Community Friends

June 19, 2018

"My overall philosophy is that the museum is here really as an educational resource for the community. So that's what you elevate. That's what you focus on, and that's what we raise the bar on.” – Doug Brauer, Orpheum Children’s Science Museum Executive Director

Kids who dream of exploring "a galaxy far, far away," are intrigued with “launching” rockets, or who long to do astronaut stuff like mining asteroid rocks or climbing into a lunar lander, might want to visit the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum’s new Astronomy Kids' Corner. With some help from Busey Bank and a number of Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE) seniors who designed two space-related exhibits, the Orpheum in downtown Champaign launched the first stage of its new astronomy exhibit at a grand opening on Thursday, June 7th. The exhibit is part of Executive Director Doug Brauer’s efforts to expand the museum’s role as an educational resource for the community.

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A BioE GAMES camper practices life-saving techniques on a dummy at the JUMP Simulation Education Center in Peoria. Bioengineering GAMES Camp Uses Cyborg Theme to Introduce High School Girls to the Discipline

June 28, 2018

Cyborgs! Most of the 24 high school girls who participated in the Bioengineering GAMES (Girls’ Adventures in Math, Engineering, and Science) camp from June 17–23, 2018, had no doubt seen movies about them: human beings, like Wolfman of the X-Men, whose physical abilities have been extended beyond normal human limitations via mechanical elements built into their bodies. But the girls’ adventure during the week-long, BioE GAMES camp wasn’t just the stuff of sci-fi movies. They were introduced to some of the real science behind the notion. But participants were not only exposed to a variety of opportunities available to bioengineers. As they rubbed shoulders with role models who look like them—both female and an African-American— they were also exposed to the idea that they, too, could be Bioengineers Plus, they discovered what it might be like to be BioE student or even a medical student at Illinois.

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GLAM GAMES Uses Common—and Not-So-Common—Materials to Introduce High School Girls to Materials Science

June 28, 2018

Sweet, yummy chocolate—which most girls crave. The ubiquitous polymers. Wild and wacky non-Newtonian fluids. Biomaterials, composites, and crystals. These are just some of the materials 16 girls dabbled in during GLAM (Girls Learn About Materials) GAMES (Girls’ Adventures in Math, Engineering, and Science) camp from June 17–23, 2018. Plus, a design project allowed the young women to explore the characteristics of a commonplace, everyday material, such as cardboard, malleable metal (tin foil), tape, or plastic, to come up with a use that's different from how it’s normally used. All of these activities were designed to give the girls a glimpse into what materials engineering is and what a materials engineer does.

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GLEE GAMES Camp Seeks to Spark High School Girls' Interest in Electrical Engineering

June 28, 2018

Ever flip a switch and marvel at the magic of electricity accomplishing a task? During the week of June 17–23, the 17 high school girls who participated in GLEE (Girls Learning Electrical Engineering) G.A.M.E.S. (Girls’ Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) camp not only learned about Electrical Engineering, but they did some engineering themselves. And helping lead the activities were several female ECE students—role models who demonstrated that girls can become electrical engineers.

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ChBE GAMES Camp Introduces High School Girls to Chemical and Molecular Engineering

July 3, 2018

It is time to change the status quo in the male-dominated STEM fields, and Illinois is definitely impacting chemical engineering in this regard through the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) GAMES (Girls' Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) camp. So with the goals of increasing the number of women in chemical engineering, and of helping participants understand what chemical engineering actually is, the ChBE GAMEs camp brought 24 rising high school freshmen through seniors to campus from June 17–23, 2018. The camp not only helped the girls to explore concepts in chemical engineering, but was the deciding factor in some choosing careers in the field as a result.

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High School Students Experience Nuclear Engineering—and More—at the New Exploring NPRE Camp

July 6, 2018

Exactly what is nuclear engineering? It has to do with power plants, right? The 18 high school students, rising juniors and seniors mostly from the Chicagoland area, who were on campus the week of June 25–29th for the first-ever Exploring NPRE camp discovered that nuclear power is just one emphasis of NPRE (the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering). And the high schoolers who attended NPRE’s week-long, residential camp not only learned about nuclear engineering, but plasma and radiological engineering as well, and how they impact our lives. Plus, they learned a bit about Illinois, and what it might be like to be an engineering student on campus.

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Mid-GLAM Camp Exposes Middle School Girls to Materials Science and Engineering

July 11, 2018

What better way to get a bunch of middle school girls excited about Materials Science and Engineering than to let them explore color and making things pretty? That’s exactly what Mid-GLAM, named after its sister camp GLAM (Girls Learn About Materials) did by exposing them to different hands-on activities and design challenges. Mid-GLAM is a summer day camp for middle school girls interested in learning about Materials Science and Engineering. It made a second annual debut from June 25 – June 29 and served students from all over the state.

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Aerospace Engineering Camps Seek to Ignite High Schoolers’ Interest in Aerospace, STEM

July 17, 2018

Remember building and flying a kite as a kid? Remember the exhilaration you felt as you watched it soar way up high? Even more rewarding is the feeling participating 9–12th grade high school students are getting this summer as they launch the gliders and rockets they designed and built during Aerospace Engineering’s (AeroE) three residential camps: Aerospace Engineering GAMES and two Illinois Aerospace Institutes (IAI). Eyes focused heavenward, the campers watch them soar (or let’s be realistic—“crash and burn!”) during the end-of-the-week launch event—all courtesy of the coordinator of the three camps, Brian Woodard, and his AeroE team.

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REACH Program’s Emphasis of Research Plus Clinical Confirms Alexis Chamorro Ortiz’s Career Goals: To Both Treat and Research Cancer

July 18, 2018

Alexis Chamorro Ortiz didn’t just wake up one morning and decide he wanted to spend the summer after his sophomore year at the University of Puerto Rico doing cancer research at Illinois as part of the REACH (Research and Education for the Advancement of Compassionate Health Care), a new USDA-funded RCEU (Research Experience for Undergraduates with an added clinical component). For most of his childhood, he had watched his grandfather first overcome a brain tumor, then lose his battle with brain cancer when Ortiz was a freshman in high school. “He passed away so quickly, and it made me want to help other people who are like my grandpa,” Ortiz explains.

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Underrepresented Minority Undergraduate Students Gain Research, Clinical Experience Via the Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s New REACH RCEU

July 19, 2018

There’s a new RCEU in town, REACH (Research and Education for the Advancement of Compassionate Health Care), sponsored and funded by the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine. What’s an RCEU? It’s an REU (a Research Experience for Undergraduates) with a clinical component in addition to the research. The REACH participants not only gained research and clinical exposure, but a better understanding of the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of the health care system, and research that impacts it.

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WE CAN REU Provides Minority Students an International Experience, Research at the Intersection of Engineering and Agriculture

July 20, 2018

The six minority undergraduate students who participated in the USDA-funded WE CAN (Wildlife Engineers Co-managing Agriculture in Nature) REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates), spent the summer of 2018 learning what conducting research is like. However, because We CAN is a two-summer program, this summer’s research opportunity followed on the heels of last summer’s 4-week trip to South Africa where participants collaborated with South African students to do ag-related engineering projects. According to Agricultural and Biological Engineering Assistant Professor Paul Davidson, the focus of WE CAN was to recruit underrepresented minorities and train them for careers in agriculture. Of the six WE CAN fellows, three are African American, and three are Hispanic. And it just so happens that all six are female. “That wasn’t on purpose,” Co-PI Michelle Green, a Research Assistant Professor in Animal Sciences, qualifies, “but they were our best matches for the program.”

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CS GAMES Camp Embraces Creativity in High School Girls Through Computer Science

July 25, 2018

Computer Science is a lot more than just sitting in front of a computer and coding. This is what 19 high school girls from Illinois and beyond discovered when they participated in the Computer Science (CS) GAMES (Girls' Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) camp from July 8–14, 2018. So, according to camp Co-Coordinator Dot (Dorothy) Silverman, the main emphasis of the camp was not just software and hardware, but encouraged creativity.

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Undergrad Brione Griffin Gets One Step Closer to Her Dream of Becoming a Doctor Via REACH RCEU

July 25, 2018

Brione Griffin’s career goals have always been “to be a doctor—be a doctor and help people out.” So when she learned about REACH (Research and Education for the Advancement of Compassionate Health Care) RCEU (a Research Experience for Undergraduates with an added clinical component), sponsored and funded by the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine, she was intrigued. "I think it's something I've loved all my life,” Griffin says regarding her passion for science, biology, and medicine. She shares an anecdote about how she got interested in those.

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GBAM GAMES camper demonstrates her team's prosthetic device. GBAM GAMES Camp Gets High School Girls Geared Up for Mechanical Engineering

August 9, 2018

“Lots of times, engineering is kind of this abstract sort of thing where someday I guess I'll be an engineer, but I'm not sure what they are, or what they do, or whatever, and I think it might be interesting. It's great to get [students] here and get them doing and seeing what [engineering] really is and how impactful it can really be.” – Joe Muskin, MechSE Educational Coordinator.

That’s exactly what 24 high school girls experienced when they attended the 6th annual GBAM (Girls Building Awesome Machines) GAMES (Girls’ Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) camp from July 8–17, 2018.

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Lisa KanburUndergrads Experience Open Source Software & Interdisciplinary Research Via INCLUSION REU

August 13, 2018

Twelve undergraduate students participated in the second summer of NCSA’s NSF-funded INCLUSION (Incubating a New Community of Leaders Using Software, Inclusion, Innovation, Interdisciplinary and OpeN-Science) REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Students gained skills they hope employ down the road, including coding in a new programming language and using Open Source Software. Plus, they got the chance to prepare a poster and present their research at the July 25th end-of-the-summer Poster Session at the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications). Participants also made some new relationships.

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Alondra EstradaIllinois Summer Research Symposium Showcases Undergraduates’ REU Experiences

August 14, 2018

On July 19–20, 2018, over 150 undergraduate students and pre-doctoral students presented posters at the 2018 Illinois Summer Research Symposium (ISRS) as a culmination of their summer research experiences at Illinois. The students not only conducted studies in the labs of some of Illinois’ world-renowned researchers, but many of them were part of undergraduate programs that also partnered with SROP, the Graduate College’s Summer Research Opportunities Program. This allowed the undergrads to participate in professional development activities, many of them in preparation for possibly continuing their education and research in graduate school, and also provided the students networking opportunities.

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Alexandra MoorePOETS REU Fosters Innovative Thinking to Change the Future of Power Dense Electronic Systems

August 15, 2018

Ever wonder what the future of electronics could look like—say over the next decade? As part of the POETS (Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems) ERC's 10-week, NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), 15 students were able to explore the possibilities through authentic research experiences. Additionally, the students were exposed to a variety of educational programs that not only enhanced their knowledge base, and supplemented their research, but also exposed them to and prepared them for STEM careers.

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MechSE’s Joe Muskin Enlightens Local Youngsters About 3D Printing During Champaign Public Library Event

August 17, 2018

Does learning about STEM have to stop just because it’s summer vacation? A number of local youth (and their moms) say, “No!” So on July 25, 20 teens (and preteens) showed up at the Champaign Public Library (CPL) for 3D Pringing 101 to learn about, then experiment with, Stereolithographic 3D printing. Courtesy of Mechanical Science and Engineering’s Joe Muskin, the participants first learned a bit about the technology: they explored the equipment that's used, and learned how and why 3D printing works, including learning about the light spectrum. But even more fun was actually doing the printing itself; plus, they left the CPL armed with a couple of 3D printed objects they could whip out as proof when boasting about the activity to friends and family.

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Vet Med Students Experience Veterinary Research During Summer Research Training Program

August 23, 2018

Nineteen Vet Med students participated in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Summer Research Training Program (SRTP) this past summer. They not only conducted research, but made a poster and had a chance to present it at a number of venues. According to the director, Lois Hoyer, SRTP is intended to be a pipeline into veterinary research. Its goal is “to identify the students who have a potential interest in a research-focused career or a career that has some research component to it, and then start them out early.” Because many SRTP students are just finishing their first year of the veterinary program, they can find another research opportunity next summer to continue to build their research credentials.

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Freshman Women in Engineering Get Ahead of the Curve At WIE Orientation

August 28, 2018

Avoiding the insanity of campus move-in day, 275 female freshman engineering students participated in the 16th annual WIE (Women in Engineering) orientation on August 21st– 23rd. Moving in early was a nice perk— they got to avoid being stuck waiting with mom and dad in a long line to unload one’s car at the dorm. However, most girls would say that wasn’t their main reason for coming. They hoped to get acquainted with campus, find out about their major and resources available to them, and to start building community. They hoped to see a familiar face the first day of class.

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Hahn and Wolters’ New Book About Women Engineers at Illinois Poised to Inspire, Retain, and Recruit Women Engineers

August 30, 2018

Several years ago, Laura Hahn (currently the Director of Engineering’s Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education [AE3]) stumbled across the book, Men and Ideas in Engineering: Twelve Histories from Illinois. On her way to show it to Angie Wolters (current Director of Women in Engineering), she had an epiphany, and determined, “Oh, I know what we have to do: we have to write a sequel!” So she asked Wolters, “Do you see this?” and at that moment, the idea for Women and Ideas in Engineering: Twelve Stories from Illinois was born.

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Shelana Martin with her poster at the end-of-the summer Poster Session at NCSA.SPIN Introduces Shelana Martin to Cybersecurity and the Open Source Platform, Moodle

September 4, 2018

How did Shelana Martin, who’s not a computer science major, end up in an NCSA internship? The rising senior in education technology under the College of Education’s Learning and Education Studies program was part of NCSA’s SPIN (Students Pushing Innovation) internship program. SPIN fosters interdisciplinary collaboration, encouraging Illinois undergraduate students, and not just computer science students, to do challenging research related to cutting-edge new technology. The new technology Martin learned was Moodle, an open-source learning management system. Plus she also learned quite a bit about cybersecurity too.

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Amy Doroff sitting in front of the Quintessential Engineer statue.Alumna Amy Doroff Gives Back to Illinois Women in Engineering

September 4, 2018

Being a freshman woman in engineering at the University of Illinois is not an easy task. Not only are the classes especially challenging, but their populations tend to have many more males than females, which can be quite intimidating for freshman girls. This is exactly why Illinois alumna Amy Doroff decided to return to the university as a keynote speaker at the Women in Engineering (WIE) freshman orientation this fall. Doroff’s college experience certainly wasn’t easy, but she had received support from various people to help her push through it. Now, it’s her turn to be the one giving support to students. “I'm three years out of college now and I want to remind people that I made it to this point, but also that it wasn't because there weren't any challenges and I want to be part of their story now.”

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A NRES junior, Alondra Estrada.NRES Junior Alondra Estrada Passionate About Environmental Science, Research, and…Turtles!

September 11, 2018

Growing up in Adison Illinois, Alondra Estrada, a first-generation Hispanic college student, wasn’t even sure she’d be going to college. Then she came to an Illinois summer camp and, as a result, she changed her mind about becoming a veterinarian and decided to study environmental science in Then, for the last two summers, she participated in the WE CAN which further muddied the waters regarding her next step career wise. Should she become an animal photographer, go to grad school and become an environmental scientist, or, go for her dream job, an environmental lawyer? While she isn’t sure what the future holds, she does know this: her many experiences have given her a lot of great career options.

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Members of the ISS High-Power Rocketry team show off their prize-winning rocket. Illinois Space Society Provides Members Stellar Technical and Leadership Experiences to Prepare Them for Careers in Space Technology

September 11, 2018

For the 150 or so members of the Illinois Space Society (ISS), the organization forms a community on campus where, according to ISS Director Sarah Legg, the “rocket nerds” from Aerospace Engineering (Aero) and beyond can get to know each other: “I've made my best friends here,” she acknowledges. “They're all rocket nerds.” In order to prepare members for careers in the field of space exploration, ISS also offers professional activities, including the opportunity to attend national conferences. To give its members hands-on, technical experience in rockets and space technology, ISS sponsors several different projects, many related to national competitions. Finally, to ensure that the next generation gets as excited about space as the ISS members are, its educational outreach experiences allow members to share their passion for space and rockets with interested youngsters of all ages. One of their biggies is coming up on October 6—Illinois Space Day.

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Fall 2018 Career Fair Is a Win-Win, Both for Illinois’ Engineering Students and Industry Recruiters

September 13, 2018

Armed with a list of companies they were interested in working for, a list of questions they intended to ask, and probably a revised resume, a steady stream of Illinois engineering students—dressed to the nines—made their way across campus to the ARC for the Engineering Career Fair on September 11–12. Their goal: network with company representatives and land an internship, or even more importantly, a job for once they graduate. For the recruiters, their goal was to romance the coveted Illinois engineering students, possibly attracting the best and the brightest to their companies.

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