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McNair Junior Fellows Research Program begins

By Abe Danaher | May 20, 2019

Minutes before the orientation meeting for the McNair Junior Fellows Research Program began, Ramy Harik whipped a whiteboard marker out of his pocket, scribbled on the table beside him, and exclaimed – to much laughter – that this was his favorite part of the classroom. No, he is not an aspiring artist. But with that doodle and the comradery it sparked, Harik set the tone for what he hopes will be a supportive community of researchers for the rest of the summer.

“This is one summer, it won’t change the world,” the associate professor said to the program’s 22 students. “I mean let’s be very, very realistic. However, it can create a dent, and little by little you will grow.”

The 12-week MJF program provides undergraduate students another outlet through the College of Engineering and Computing to expand and build upon their research interests. Each student is paired with one faculty advisor from the college who they will meet with regularly to discuss challenges and receive guidance. At the end of the 12 weeks, the students will present their research at a poster board presentation on August 1.

Throughout the summer, students will also be encouraged to collaborate with one another. Harik is requiring each student in the program to grab lunch with another student who they do not already know. His goal is to show them that research is not an independent process.

“Profit from exchange,” Harik said. “Remember, this is a community of scholars, not individual researchers. It’s not ‘give me the money and go.’ That’s not how this will be working.”

The MJF program has been around for three years, but this its first year as an official program of the college. Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri said that after seeing the success of past program participants and the “high-quality” of students coming out of the program, having the college officially sponsor it was “not a hard sell.” He hopes that the research students do over the summer leads them to consider applying to graduate schools in the future.

Check back for updates on the MJF program. We will be closely following the students to show their research and their growth. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for videos, photos, interviews and stories throughout the summer.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.