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Research Program in Puerto Rico Prepares Undergraduates for Workforce

NSF Award:

REU: Research Experiences for Undergraduates and Teachers in Functional and Nanostructured Materials at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez  (University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez)

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The University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez has started a three-year program offering Research Experience for Undergraduates and Teachers. The program engages 12 undergraduates from universities across the U.S. and two teachers from underserved regions of Puerto Rico.

In the first year, 12 students worked on research projects related to the synthesis and characterization of magnetic and semiconductor nanoparticles, nanoporous materials and nanocomposites. In addition to research activities, students received general research methods training, ethic seminars, career guidance and the opportunity to learn Spanish as a second language.

Cicily Smith, a junior form Austin College, Texas, worked with Marcelo Suarez for 10 weeks, studying mechanical properties of aluminum alloys normally used in aerospace transportation structures. Her project demonstrated that embedding nanosized hard ceramic particles in commercial aluminum alloys results in improved mechanical strength and better corrosion resistance compared to untreated alloys.

By engaging undergraduates and K-12 teachers in frontier research, this program helps build a broadly inclusive science engineering workforce.

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