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Students Shine at STEMposium

Napa Valley College's Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) and STEM Programs hosted the 9th Annual STEMposium on March 13.

Eleven STEM students showcased their research to faculty, administrators, students and the Napa Engineers Society. The presenters were among 41 students engaged in a number of Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), designed to sharpen their academic and career skills.

Most of the research was conducted through the UC Davis School of Medicine's Prep Medico Program, the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program (DDETFP) at NVC, Touro University of California, Kaiser Permanente's Medical Scholars Program, the NASA Space Grant (NVC), and the Summer Health Profession Education Program at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Nine NVC students pursuing transportation-related careers did research on transportation related projects as members of the federal Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program. Since the 2009 fall semester, 47 NVC students have received the award from the Federal Highway Administration's Center for Transportation Workforce Development.

Maria Vargas said STEM classes and research can be challenging, but rewarding.

"I was very satisfied with the fellowship experience," said Vargas, a Civil Engineering major who plans to transfer in the fall 2018.

"The fellowship has allowed me to network with professionals in my field and to gain hands-on experience. Employers want to see experience on your resume, and this fellowship has certainly helped me get that," she said.

In addition, NVC students had the opportunity to do research at Touro University in either the College of Pharmacy or Osteopathic Medicine labs. Students can register for a 1-unit seminar, Biology Work Experience 199, with Dr. Stephanie Burns. All research is done at the Touro University campus in Vallejo.

 "It is truly one of the year's great events to be able to watch these young students talk about their projects and see they have a very bright future," said Rene Rubio, MESA and Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) advisor. "Thank you all who attended and to our faculty and STEM counselors who continue to support students with these invaluable research experiences."

This is the second year of the research-preparatory class "Theory and Experimentation with Rockets and Drones." The course curriculum was developed through a NASA grant administered at NVC by Dr. Erin Quealy. The grant is part of NASA's Minority University Research and Education Program, allowing NVC to partner with Sonoma State University (Dr. Lynn Cominsky) and CSU Fresno (Dr. Gregory Kriehn). In this class, students prepare for research opportunities by doing hands-on construction, programming, data collection, data analysis, and presentation. Students solder electronic payloads, program a microcontroller to collect data, construct a rocket and a drone, attend a high-powered rocket launch, take flight data, and analyze the data.

The curriculum is being used at nine California Community Colleges this year, funding one student per year from each school to attend a research internships at a NASA center or on a NASA project at a university. This class gives students an opportunity to do project-based learning and prepare them for the research environment.

Details about MESA are available at http://napavalley.edu/MESA