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Stories about...Undergraduate STEM Outreach

Illinois Space Society Provides Members Stellar Technical and Leadership Experiences to Prepare Them for Careers in Space Technology

October 19, 2018

On October 6th, the Illinois Space Society (ISS) hosted the Illinois Space Day, a fun, event-filled day with all kinds of space-related activities. Previously this event has been intended for K-8 students, but this year the ISS expanded both their projects and activities to include high-school age students as well. Participants could view exhibits, marvel at demonstrations of various design projects, and participate in numerous hands-on activities.

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MechSE’s Leon Liebenberg, SIIP Team Use Play-in-Learning Elements to Engage Students, Foster Learning

September 19, 2018

We’ve all seen toddlers learn about shapes by trying to place a round object into a toy’s square hole, and vice versa. We’ve also seen children learn basic structural engineering principles by building a tall tower of blocks or Legos with insufficient structural support, only to have it crash to the floor. If small children can learn through play, couldn’t much older students, such as undergraduates in Illinois Engineering courses? Leon Liebenberg, a MechSE Professor, and a team of colleagues who are part of his “Play-in-Learning: Cognition, Emotion, and Playful Pedagogy” SIIP proposal all seem to think so. However, Liebenberg reports, “Not everyone is convinced that play belongs in engineering…Some people are cynical or suspicious about the prospective benefits of play in engineering.”

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Kristina AllenBy 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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SPIN student Zekun Wei at work in NCSA's SPIN officeNCSA’s SPIN Program Exposes Illinois Students to Innovative, High-Tech Research

November 30, 2017

Illinois undergraduate students seeking to do challenging research on campus, especially related to cutting-edge new technology, need look no further than NCSA’s SPIN (Students Pushing Innovation) program. Begun in 2012, it was created to support undergraduate research on campus and also to provide access to new technology—high-performance computing, data analysis and visualization, or cybersecurity, to name several. The gist of the program? Students get to do cutting-edge research in new technologies mentored by world-class researchers— possibly using NCSA’s Blue Waters supercomputer.

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Sistas in STEM (SIS) Seeks to Provide Support for Minority Women in STEM

September 24, 2017

Back in August of 2015, there didn’t seem to be a specific organization tailored to meet the needs and interests of minority women in STEM fields. So five women on campus, including Shelana Martin, decided to start one: Sistas in STEM, a Registered Student Organization (RSO) that’s geared toward the cultural background of minority women. “We wanted to hone in on that cultural aspect and give them a safe space for coming with their problems,” Shelana acknowledges. But it was also important that the organization take into account the fact that they’re women.

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POETS’ REU Exposes Undergrad Students to Electro-Thermal Systems Research

August 21, 2017

Ever notice how much heat your electronic devices give off? Four undergraduate students had an opportunity this summer to not only learn about this issue, but possibly help do something about it as part of the 10-week REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) sponsored by the POETS (Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems) Engineering Research Center.

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INCLUSION REU Seeks to Foster Diversity While Exposing Undergrads to Coding Via Open Source Software

August 21, 2017

“We're doing this because we would like to get students that wouldn't have the opportunity otherwise to think about software, to learn about open source software, and then potentially be able to use that in either graduate school or in industry.” – Daniel S. Katz, PI

Ten undergraduate students were on campus this summer to participate in NCSA’s new 3-year REU, INCLUSION (Incubating a New Community of Leaders Using Software, Inclusion, Innovation, Interdisciplinary and OpeN-Science), funded through the NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyber Infrastructure. The goals of the REU are to enable ten undergraduate students each year to develop software and contribute to software projects, specifically Open Source Software projects; to make the population of software developers more diverse; and to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration across all fields with projects led by two mentors from different disciplines. Student participants gained skills they hope to use in the future: they learned about Open Source Software and programming; they learned how to present research; plus they made some relationships and networked.

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At Blue Waters Institute, Students Use Parallel Computing, Super Computers, to Speed Up Research

June 28, 2017

With the goal of learning High-Performance Computing (HPC), 26 students were on campus from May 29th through June 9th as part of the 2017 Blue Waters Institute. While some were graduate students from the XSEDE project, 18 were undergraduate Blue Waters Interns. Not only did these interns spend two weeks learning about parallel computing, but over the next year, they will continue to use their newly acquired HPC skills—and the Blue Waters Super Computer—to analyze data for their Blue Waters research projects back at their home institutions.
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ME370 Students Find End-of-the-Semester Robot Races a Fun Learning Experience

May 9, 2017

There was a lot riding on the 36 little robots navigating the ropes stretched across Boneyard Creek for ME 370's final competition. Held just north of the Engineering Building at noon on Wednesday, May 3rd, the contest drew a crowd of interested spectators who vicariously experienced the little robots' ups and downs, "oohing" and "ahing" during the spectacle. For the students, the contest not only motivated them to show off their engineering prowess; it got their competitive juices flowing as they sought to beat the socks off their opponents. And as an added incentive, teams whose robots beat the time set by Professor Socie's robot got to skip the upcoming final exam.
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New ENG 198 Course Teaches Freshmen the Engineering Process, Teamwork, While Addressing Personal Mobility

November 9, 2016

The idea behind ENG 198, the new Engineering course being piloted in fall 2016, is to give freshmen a chance to discover what it’s like to be an engineer early on…with a few caveats. Working as part of an interdisciplinary team, students are to come up with an innovation of benefit to society in the area of personal mobility. Plus, despite the students being freshmen, course planners don't intend to smooth out the path for the students; they want the students to navigate some bumps in the road—just like real engineers do. The goal? For students to learn the engineering process, experience teamwork, and come up with an end product that—while not necessarily 100% successful—lets them experience having contributed to society.

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Pakeltis Sisters Hope to Increase the Number of Women—Change the World Through Engineering

October 7, 2016

While the old Irving Berlin song, “Sisters, Sisters,” may not exactly be the theme song of the two Pakeltis sisters, a couple of lines fit Grace and Abby to a T. One is the last phrase of: "Two different faces, But in tight places, We think and we act as one." For instance, they’re both studying Engineering at Illinois. Grace, the oldest, is a senior in Materials Science Engineering (MatSE), while sophomore Abby is in Mechanical Science & Engineering (MechSE).
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POETS REU Helps Illinois Undergrad Sabrina Yin Choose Her Career Path

August 22, 2016

Most REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) participants have an opportunity to conduct research for 8–10 weeks during the summer. Their experience then culminates in a poster session—the highlight of the summer—which gives the undergrad the chance to hone his or her skills while creating a research poster and reporting results. However, POETS REU participant Sabrina Yin, a rising junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Illinois, is doing more than just a couple of months worth of research in the summer. Yin began working in researcher Nenad Miljkovic’s Energy Transport Research Lab in March, participated in the REU this summer, and will continue her research in the lab this fall and beyond. “This research project that I’m working on will run for another two years approximately. So I’ll be staying in the lab to help out with the research,” she explains.

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2016 Chemistry REU Offers Undergraduate Students a Glimpse of Grad Life

August 16, 2016

This summer at Illinois, five undergraduate students were chosen to be a part of the Chemistry REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program to get a glimpse of what research in graduate school looks like. Allison Fout, the PI for this REU, which currently is solely funded by 3M, said that out of 270 applicants, only five were chosen. According to Fout, applicants were selected based upon the following criteria: “Their grades, their letters of recommendation, their experience. (You could really gain experience by coming here)" she adds. Plus, she indicates that the final criteria was: "students that were interested in pursuing chemistry in the future. All of those things were part of what we were looking at.”

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Undergrads Consider Nanotechnology Careers Thanks to nano@illinois REU

August 10, 2016

During the summer of 2016, ten undergraduate students learned about nanotechnology as part of the NSF-funded nano@illinois Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). While spending the summer performing research in the labs of some of Illinois’ premier researchers, the students not only learned a lot about the area in nanotechnology that they were studying; they learned what grad school is like and got some pointers on how to apply. Finally, many of them discovered that they liked research…a lot. In fact, some even decided that the area they researched over the summer was the area they wanted to concentrate on in the future.
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Undergrads in Bioimaging REU Experience What Research, Graduate School Is Like

July 29, 2016

Ten undergraduate students from around the country participated in the NSF-funded Bioimaging Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Working alongside researchers in Illinois labs, they discovered the exciting world of bioimaging research, got a taste of what graduate school is like, and some might have discovered what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

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Wendy Reyes Learns Life Skills in Bioimaging REU

July 29, 2016

When rising junior Wendy Reyes spent the summer doing research in Professor Michael Insana’s Ultrasonic Imaging Lab as part of the 2016 Bioimaging REU, she learned a lot.She learned some research skills: how to train software to recognize cancer in the images of breast tissue.

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Bioimaging REU's Matt Kavanaugh Experiences Cancer Research at Illinois

July 29, 2016

Matt Kavanaugh had originally applied to Illinois as an undergraduate, but finances prevented him from coming here. So he matriculated to the University of Kansas, where the rising junior is majoring in Chemical Engineering with a concentration in Biomedical. However, when searching for something productive to do over the summer, he came across the NSF-funded Bioimaging Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Illinois.

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Students Acquire High-Performance Computing Skills During Blue Waters’ Petascale Institute

June 20, 2016

NCSA (the National Center for Supercomputing Applications) is changing the millennial generation and the future of big data with the Petascale Insititute. During the two-week institute, students go from knowing fairly nothing about HPC (High-Performance Computing) language to knowing enough to complete amazing research projects using the Blue Waters supercomputer. From May 22nd to June 3rd, 19 Blue Waters interns (undergraduate students), 10 XSEDE scholars (both undergraduate and graduate students), and four additional undergraduate and graduate students participated in the institute

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Sustainable Futures campersCGS's Summer Camps Teach STEM With a Global Flavor; Act as a Bridge to College

June 7, 2016

While one might not think of Illinois' Center for Global Studies (CGS) as a STEM unit, two of its three summer 2016 camps address STEM topics…from a global perspective. Sustainable Futures, from June 5–10, addressed a number of topics regarding sustainability. Global Health, in its first year, will address communicable diseases and epidemics. (The third, non-STEM camp is Intensive Arabic.) CGS Outreach Coordinator, Jeremie Smith, admits that while their camps are a lot of work, they’re valuable in a number of ways.

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Bioengineering Undergrads Build Biobots in New BIOE 306 Course

December 16, 2015

Biobots. The word smacks of scientific breakthroughs in the distant future, or the subject matter of some futuristic, sci-fi movie. But Illinois researchers are currently building and studying biobots as part of their research in this emerging field. However, they're not the only ones. This past semester, Illinois' Bioengineering department piloted a brand new course, BIOE 306, BioFabrication Lab, that teaches undergraduate students how to build them too. Developed as part of the NSF-funded EBICS (Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems) Science and Technology Center, the course distilled down cutting-edge EBICS research and initiated eight Bioengineering juniors and seniors into the mysteries of building with biology. In addition, the idea for this class was developed in part due to the Illinois Innovation Prize, which emphasized the need to teach the next generation of engineers and scientists how to "build with biology."
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Sohinee Oswal, a member of both the Innovation and Sustainability LLCs. No Longer Just for Sleeping, Illinois Residence Halls Provide Learning Via LLCs

November 13, 2015

It’s not your mother’s dorm any more. In fact, according to Alma Sealine, Director of University Housing, and Nathan Sanden, Assistant Director of Residential Life, in the university housing world, dorm is a four-letter word—and not just because of the number of letters it has.

“The 4-letter word dorm means that you only eat and sleep in that location,” explains Sealine, “whereas we like the terminology residence hall because it accounts for the living and learning that occurs, in addition to just sleeping there.” Thus, the name Living-Learning Communities, or LLCs.
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Rumya Raghavannano@illinois REU Undergrads Experience Growth Via Nanotechnology Research

August 27, 2015

"I definitely think the best learning experiences are those that push you out of your comfort zone." – Rumya Raghavan

Eleven undergraduate students spent the summer working in the labs of some of Illinois' world-class researchers as part of the 10-week nano@illinois REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Not only did participants perform nanotechnology research, but they were challenged both professionally and personally as they learned new things about nanotechnology, about life in a research lab, and about themselves. As a result of their experience, some decided that graduate school might be in their future; some even considering careers in nanotechnology research.
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nano@illinois REU participant Sahil Nayyar REU Undergrads Experience Research, What Graduate School Is Like

August 25, 2015

Twenty-six undergrads helped with cutting-edge research at Illinois this past summer as part of three NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs: the nano@illinois, EBICS, and Bioimaging REUs. In addition to the research experience itself, as a side benefit, participants got to find out what being a graduate student is like and possibly decide if research—particularly the area they were studying this summer—might be the career for them.
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EBICS REU participant Solomon McBride2015 EBICS REU Introduces Undergrads to the World of Research, Graduate School

August 25, 2015

While performing cutting-edge research at Illinois this past summer as part of the NSF-funded EBICS (Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Celllular Systems) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), the five students gained more than a deeper understanding of the subject they were studying; they learned time management, networked with researchers, and experienced what it's like to be graduate students.
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REU participant Casey TroccoliSummer Research Experience Exposes Undergrads to Bioimaging at Illinois

August 24, 2015

One goal of the NSF-funded Bioengineering REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) was that students who participated this summer would consider going to graduate school, and hopefully in bioimaging—and it appears they might have achieved that goal. The ten undergrads who participated in the REU not only performed cutting-edge bioimaging research; they also found out what grad school is like, and some even decided that the area they researched this summer might be the career for them—and that Illinois is the place to prepare for it.
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XSEDE Scholar Wanda Moses, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at Clemson UniversityPetascale Institute Introduces Students to High-Performance Computing

June 12, 2015

Most of the 34 students who attended the two-week Petascale Institute May 24th–June 5th are not in computer science; however, by the middle of the second week, they were glibly rattling off HPC (High Performance Computing) jargon, confidently referring to concepts most of us have either never heard of or have no idea what they actually are, like: OpenMP and MPI, vector accelerators, OpenACC, CUDA, debugging, optimization, and visualization. Their goal? To learn enough about parallel computing to be able to use Blue Waters or another supercomputer to analyze data for projects ranging from studying black holes, neutron stars, and galaxies, to natural language acquisition, visualization in cyber security, or protein folding using molecular dynamic simulations.
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ME370's Drench-Your-Professor Competition Creates a Splash

June 9, 2015

Mechanical Engineering students who took ME370 in Spring 2015 were tasked with designing a couple of mechanisms that would allow them to dunk their professor. Giving students hands-on, practical experience, the course taught them how to work as a team to design something on CAD, then build that mechanism. Part of the process involved overcoming obstacles—students would design, unsuccessfully test, then have to go back to the drawing board and improve their product. And, oh, yes, as added motivation, they got to vie for the chance to pay their professor back for all of those long hours of study by dunking him or her in the dunking booth set up on the Quad.
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A Blue Waters intern displays the tatoo she got during a tour of the Petascale facility. The message: Live free; code hardInterns Have an Up-Close-and-Personal Encounter With Blue Waters

June 24, 2014

Ever want to take a super-computer for a spin? Students from around the country who participate in the Blue Waters Student Internship Program recently got to do just that. After learning about parallel programming—the language of supercomputers—the interns being exposed to HPC (High-Performance Computing) got to run their program on the University of Illinois' Blue Waters, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world and the fastest on a university campus.
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MechSE Professor Sameh Tawfick glances up at the water balloons poised in the drenching booth's apparatus above him.ME 370's Unique "Drench Your Professor" Competition Hones Students' Design Skills

May 8, 2014

They came from far and wide that warm and sunny Wednesday afternoon in early May, until a crowd had assembled on Engineering Quad just outside the Mechanical Engineering Lab. They gathered there to experience the pageantry of the ME 370, Mechanical Design course's "Drench Your Professor" Competition, which pitted the course's Mechanical Engineering students and their machines against their professors.
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Hannah LantChemistry REU Increases Likelihood That Students Choose STEM/Research Careers

August 30, 2013

Fourteen young researchers from all over the U.S. were on campus this summer participating in a 10-week Chemistry REU program (Research Experience for Undergraduates) funded by the National Science Foundation. These undergrads experienced firsthand what research in chemistry is like at a world-class university— and what being a grad student might be like.
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EBICS REU undergrad Madeline TolishEBICS REU Students Experience Research on Biological Machines

August 29, 2013

Not too long ago, the five undergrad students who spent the summer in Illinois labs could only have encountered biological machines in one place—straight out of Sci-Fi. But as part of EBICS' (Emergent Behavior of Integrated Cellular Systems) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, these students got to conduct research in ground-breaking new areas like biological machines and biomedical engineering.
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Two Illinois undergraduate engineering studentsIllinois To Participate in WitsOn—Online Class for Female STEM Undergrads

September 4, 2012

To help promote retention of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Illinois will be participating in WitsOn (Women in Tech Share Online), an online class for female undergraduate STEM students. A joint project by Harvey Mudd College and Piazza, a course-management website...
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Taiwanese trainees work in Illinois lab.B3 Summer Institute Provides Interdisciplinary Training

August 28, 2012

"So it's a good two-week, very intense, but very "get-your-feet-wet" sort of experience. The speaker list is phenomenal... You name the campus, and you've got all the big leagues from anywhere, from this campus and other campuses all over." Irfan Ahmad
Nicknamed B3SI by the planners, the two-week-long BioSensing BioActuation BioNanotechnology Summer Institute 2012, held at the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL) from July 30–August 10, 2012, was intended to train participants at the intersection of biology and engineering and to foster networking with other researchers...
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Power House team poses by the prototype of their power-generating stationary bicycle.Engineering's Summer Scholars Creates Small-Campus Feel for Freshmen

August 6, 2012

"Imagine coming to campus as a part of a group of twenty-two, and you have six RPAs and essentially have the resources of this university for 40,000 people, and you're here in the summer when it's nice and quiet and small." – Bruce Litchfield
Create a small-campus feel. This was the goal of Assistant Dean/Director Bruce Litchfield and IEFX Program Coordinator Michelle Adeoye...
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Emily RabeSummer Research Experiences Steer Undergrads Toward STEM Careers

July 27, 2012

Instead of lounging by the pool this summer, a number of undergraduate students have been in Illinois labs—not only conducting research—but possibly figuring out what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
Participants in the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, these students are experiencing what real research is like. For many of them, this experience has also exposed them to what graduate school is like. For others...
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textBioE Students Shine in Senior Design

June 4, 2012

After several years of learning principles and how to apply what they had learned to come up with practical solutions for real-life problems, Bioengineering students were given the opportunity to do just that.

Sponsored by industry, university faculty, area medical clinics, and/or the community, Bioengineering seniors participating in this capstone design course over the past academic year completed projects that ranged from diagnosing cancer to designing a prothsesis that will enable below-elbow amputees to swim.
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ITI in first year of NSF grant as "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (REU) Site
image of male student using laptop

October 15, 2009

The Information Trust Institute (ITI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a $357,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” (REU) site.
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