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CBiRC Young Engineers and Scientists

Brandi Geisinger and Mari Kemis serve as evaluators for the Young Engineers and Scientists (YES) program, which is a Center for Biorenewable Chemicals Program sponsored by the NSF. The YES program brings underrepresented high school students to Iowa State University for a six-week internship where students conduct research related to biorenewables, gain exposure to academic and career opportunities in engineering, and present research findings at the CBiRC annual meeting.

Evaluation of the Young Engineers and Scientists (YES) program includes the administration of a pre-program survey to determine student interest and knowledge of relevant scientific principles, a focus group conducted at the end of the research internship, and a post-survey conducted at the end of the following school year. This evaluation was informed by the literature on enhancing retention and success of students, especially first generation and URM students (Ackermann, 1991; Anderson-Rowland, 1998; Walpole et al, 2008). The impacts of the YES program evaluation include: 1) Developing an understanding of the value of YES program on youth who could become scientists and engineers; and 2) Supporting and encouraging data collection activities that demonstrate impact of programs and provide guidance for program improvement. Scholarly contributions related to the evaluation include a meeting presentation at the International Conference on Science in Society. A legacy evaluation of the program will include a study of previous YES participants to understand the impact of YES participation on post-secondary and post-baccalaureate study, career choices and opportunities, and value of mentoring, with special emphasis on the experiences of underrepresented participants. Surveys and interviews will be conducted to collect this information.

Highlighted Findings
Results of the program evaluation have been positive. YES has enrolled over 60 students to date, and more than 15 former YES students are currently attending ISU. Evaluation results have shown that YES students gain:

  • A deeper appreciation for science and scientists.
  • Self-confidence in their ability to conduct research.
  • Knowledge of different fields of science.
  • A better understanding of academic options.
  • A stronger interest in pursuing a research career.

Evaluation References
Ackermann, S. P. (1991). The benefits of summer bridge programs for underrepresented and low-income transfer students. <i>Community/Junior College Quarterly of Research and Practice, 15</i>, 211-224.

Anderson-Rowland, M. R., Reyes, M. A., & McCartney, M. A. (1998). <i>MEP summer bridge program: mathematics assessment strategies.</i> Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

Walpole, M., Simmerman, H., Mack, C., Mills, J. T., Scales, M., & Albano, D. (2008). Bridge to success: Insight into summer bridge program students’ college transition. <i>Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 20</i>(1), 11-30.