This summer, USC Viterbi kicked off with a series of programs for K-12 students in STEM education. Starting in early June, USC Viterbi VAST started up the SHINE program, or Summer High School Intensive in Next-Generation Engineering, which brought in 26 high school students from Los Angeles and beyond to participate in selected labs on campus. From aerospace engineering to robotics to biomedical engineering, students immersed themselves in a research project with a specific focus under the mentorship of USC graduate students and faculty.
“My experience at SHINE has been absolutely amazing,” said SHINE student Noel Ermer. “I’ve learned different ways to conduct experiments and write my own experiment. I’m so happy I got to work with Ph.D. students and not only helped them with their research, but they also helped me with my research.”
The seven-week program wrapped in early August with a poster session where SHINE students held discussions and presented their research projects to parents and the larger USC community.
That week, USC Viterbi simultaneously held the Careers in STEM outreach event, a week-long seminar program sponsored by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. Careers in STEM brought together South L.A. middle and high school students to discover career paths into STEM fields. Visiting students and parents participated in a series of faculty and professional presentations which discussed the careers, necessary skills, and educational opportunities needed to break into fields from mathematics to neurosciences.
“The mission of Viterbi’s STEM Educational Outreach Programs is to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged and historically underrepresented K-12 students,” said Darin Gray, USC Viterbi director of STEM Educational Outreach Programs (STEM-EOP).
Throughout the week, USC Viterbi engaged high school students to help put together hands-on activities that immersed students into each respective field.
“It was a two-track learning opportunity for our high school student volunteer facilitators,” said Joy Loo, a Boyle Heights math teacher and one of the activity moderators. “They learned public speaking and creating content material through hands-on workshops.”
“Seeing students become comfortable talking as experts to students not much younger than themselves was really impressive to watch,” said Rochelle Urban, associate director of STEM Educational Outreach Programs at USC Viterbi.
The week-long event wrapped with a talk by USC Viterbi admissions officers and other STEM outreach opportunities, such as Bob Barboza’s Space Laboratory, pushing students to continue their pursuit of science and technology with set goals and clearer aspirations.
After finishing its inaugural run, USC Viterbi Outreach hopes to expand Careers in STEM to include workshops in careers in the arts in subsequent years. The SHINE program will open applications to the 2018 cohort later this year, continuing to offer research opportunities to high school students who seek an immersive experience in university-level research.