Over the last two decades, San Antonio has become a hub for growth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. This is particularly apparent with the development of several major and minor local aviation, biotechnology, and information technology businesses, much of which has been centered around Brooks City Base and Port San Antonio redevelopment. Local colleges and universities too are churning out talented students who seek careers in these fields. At an August 7 symposium and awards ceremony, Alamo Colleges’ students who participated in a research program with the University of Texas at San Antonio presented the results of their efforts and were recognized for their achievements.
The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) CIMA Undergraduate Research Program provided these students with a chance to obtain hands-on experience for 10 weeks over the summer in UTSA’s top-tier research laboratories. This is one of two in the nation funded by a three-year, $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant. The program’s objective is to bolster the success rates of minorities studying in STEM fields at the Alamo Colleges. Alamo College students were paired with UTSA faculty mentors from the university’s Colleges of Engineering, Science, and Liberal and Fine Arts. The students and mentors worked on various research projects in biology, chemistry, computer science, geological science, physics and psychology.
“This was an exceptional opportunity for students to gain research experience and learn what campus life is like at a top-tier institution,” Gail Taylor, associate director of STEM initiatives in the UTSA Center for Research and Training in the Sciences, said in a news release. “The Alamo Colleges’ best students were able to come to UTSA, get research experience and connect with our faculty and students. Having a connection with a faculty member at a four-year institution greatly increases retention of community college students once they arrive on campus.”
Aside from the research in the UTSA labs, the students toured Southwest Research Institute, where they observed the drug development process and tissue engineering.
“We see the need to make an effort to help minority students who may not always feel comfortable going from a community college to a university, especially those studying subjects in the tough STEM fields,” Maureen Cartledge, St. Philip’s College’s interim vice president of academic success, said in the release.
“We really feel privileged to be a part of this grant to be a stepping stone for perhaps an academic future or career that students otherwise would not have considered.” It’s such professional and educational collaborative efforts that are helping local STEM students to consider staying in San Antonio and pursue related professions locally.