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UTEP Awarded $510,000 for Recruitment and Retention of Engineering Students



What does it take to master the art of optimization modeling?
What does it take to master the art of optimization modeling?
 

Drs. Heidi A. Taboada (PI) and Jose F. Espiritu (Co-PI), Assistant Professors in the Department of Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering, and Dr. Connie Gomez (Co-PI) from the Mechanical Engineering Department, have been awarded $510,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of quality students entering the engineering pipeline and to increase retention rates.

The 3-year project, titled Catalyzing and Supporting Minority Talent Development Model offers undergraduate and graduate students research opportunities in the field of optimization. “The project activities are targeted toward first generation college students, women and minority students,” said Dr. Taboada. “It is designed to encourage students to pursue an interest in research and to acquire a variety of research skills and experiences. Participants in this project will work directly with at least one existing research project. In addition to learning about the optimization field, participants will gain an understanding of the expectations, demands, and necessary skills to develop research.

“One of the key components of our model is the Summer Research & Leadership Experiences for Undergraduate students,” added Dr. Espiritu. “As part of this component, engineering students will not only be working on research projects, but they will also have the opportunity to participate in several activities directed to develop and improve their leadership skills. Participation in this summer program will be great for our students. Obviously, if students are given a chance to develop leadership skills as part of their education they would have a competitive advantage after graduation.”

On the same note, Dr. Gomez emphasized that “the proposed model spans the educational engineering spectrum, impacting high school students and teachers, undergraduate and graduate students through structured education, research and mentoring activities. In this model all of our proposed activities gravitate around our central theme which is optimization.”