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Cañada Professor Earns Best Paper Award at Engineering Conference

The presentation outlined a successful summer research internship at the school


In 2011, Professor Enriquez (fourth from left) was honored
 by President Obama for his mentoring activities.
Cañada College Professor Amelito Enriquez was honored last month at the American Society for Engineering Education Conference for his presentation detailing a partnership between the college, San Francisco State University, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center that provides internship opportunities for Cañada students.
 
The paper, titled “Promoting Academic Excellence Among Underrepresented Community College Engineering Students through a Summer Research Internship Program,” received the Best Paper Award from the ASEE Two-Year College Division. The annual conference was held June 23-26 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The partnership between the two schools and NASA was developed through a three-year grant funded by the NASA Curriculum Improvements Partnership Award for the Integration of Research (CIPAIR) program. The 10-week summer internship provides opportunities for freshmen and sophomore students at Cañada to participate in engineering research under the supervision of SFSU faculty and a graduate student mentor.
 
Research topics include performance-based earthquake engineering, circuit design for biomedical applications, embedded system design, and transistor reliability issues in nano-scale circuits.

Enriquez said the program was developed to help improve student retention. “A recent report prepared by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, indicates that the United States needs to produce one million additional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professionals in the next decade to retain its historical preeminence in science and technology,” Enriquez said. “The report indicated that retaining students in the first two years of college is the most promising and cost-effective strategy to address this need.”

John Paulino, a former Aragon High School graduate, spent two summers in the internship program while studying at Cañada. He is now studying mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley and has been named a NASA Student Ambassador mentoring other engineering students.

“Being a NASA Student Ambassador connects me with a network of great professionals," he said. In addition, Paulino credits the ambassador program with connecting him to peers, preparing him to enter the STEM workforce, and allowing him to represent NASA toinsprie and engage future scientists and engineers. Paulino said it was all made possible through the 10-week internship program at Cañada.

Jesus Garcia  spent his summer internship at SFSU learning how to conduct research and work with groups of researchers. "These are two very important skills for engineers," he said. "The internship also helped me become a better analyst, critical thinker, and problem solver. It's a perfect opportunity for students who have no previous experience to gain real-world knowledge in the field of engineering."

Garcia studied under SFSU Professor Cheng Chen, investigating a phenomenon called Soft Oxide Breakdown in the performance of integrated circuits. He later presented his findings at a regional ASEE conference.

“In the first two years, the program has generated high quality research from participating students,” Enriquez said. He said post-program surveys indicate participating students strengthen their identity as engineers, increase their interest in research, and become more motivated to transfer to a four-year university, complete their bachelor's degree in engineering, a pursue a graduate degree.

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