Developing summer research programs at an NSF ERC: Activities, assessment and adaptation Conference

Drummond, M, Cardella, ME, Sydlik, M et al. (2019). Developing summer research programs at an NSF ERC: Activities, assessment and adaptation .

cited authors

  • Drummond, M; Cardella, ME; Sydlik, M; Everett, KM


  • The focus of this poster is the educational programming and evaluation associated with an NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC). CISTAR, the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources, is a new NSF ERC in its second year. The center's mission is to create a transformative engineered system to convert light hydrocarbons from shale resources to chemicals and transportation fuels in smaller, modular, local, and highly networked processing plants. The center, a collaborative network of five universities, is supported by four pillars: workforce development, diversity, industry, and research. This poster will outline research experiences and career and graduate school preparation and associated evaluation related to workforce development and diversity including a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) for middle and high school teachers, a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and a Young Scholars program for high school students. Our presentation documents and describes steps taken to launch the educational programming during the first year of the center. The overarching broader impact goal of CISTAR Workforce Development is to create a technically excellent and inclusive community of hydrocarbon systems researchers, learners, and teachers. CISTAR aims to create an environment where people of all backgrounds are welcomed, supported, and respected. The center engages an external evaluation team with extensive experience in evaluating STEM education programs, technology-based projects, professional development programming, and materials development projects. While the intensity and lengths of the summer 2018 programming varied, all participants engaged in key aspects of research (hypothesis development, experimental design, data collection and analysis, and communicating their results to others), were included in research meetings and presentations involving scientists at a wide-range of expertise (novice to mature), and had one on one mentoring with graduate students and other CISTAR program personnel. The external evaluators administered pre and post program surveys and mid-point interviews to both participants and mentors to collect formative feedback on the potential impacts of the project on the participants, graduate mentors, and to ask whether the goals and objectives were accomplished as planned, and identify strengths and limitations of the project. These evaluation strategies will be detailed as well as modifications to programming based on the results of this assessment.

publication date

  • June 15, 2019