One lucky Marin County high school student is getting the opportunity to work as a researcher over the summer. That student is ninth-grader Ramiro Velay from Terra Linda High School.
College of Marin (COM) was awarded a grant from the Department of Defense (DoD) to bring on a student apprentice over the summer to conduct research alongside COM Physics and Astronomy Professor Dr. Antonino Cucchiara. Administered by the Rochester Institute of Technology, the summer apprenticeship is a part of the Army Educational Outreach Program’s (AEOP) Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (REAP) which funds apprenticeship opportunities for high school students in real research laboratories with a professional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) researcher and mentor. Students who participate in the program are paid a $3,000 stipend for their time in the program.
COM’s program will run for eight weeks over summer 2021. Cucchiara has participated in the program previously with a different institution and thought it would be a great fit for COM and its local high school students. Because this is the first year COM will be participating, the institution is only taking on one student. If this year proves successful, he may apply to fund more than one student in the following years.
Cucchiara explains how the summer internship adds to the many STEM opportunities for students at COM.
“The first is to get a fresh glimpse into what college life and the college environment actually are like and to interact with faculty at a college without the stress of taking classes. That’s one thing,” Cucchiara said. “The second thing is to experience something different than the usual after-school activities and get involved in true research. Students will learn about astronomy, participate in cutting-edge astronomy research, and perform and learn programming and things they might not necessarily learn in their first year of college.”
COM’s student apprentice Velay will have the chance to help decide the type of research project he will be working on over the eight-week program. He will also be working virtually alongside students at other institutions. At the end of the apprenticeship, Velay will present his project to the other students and faculty collaborating with the AEOP project at different institutions.
Cucchiara said he is hopeful the program will increase local high school student interest in COM, particularly among students who are typically underrepresented in STEM fields. COM’s current strategic plan seeks to increase diversity on its campuses and to establish a pipeline for Marin County kindergarten through high school students to college.
For more information about the Army Educational Outreach Program, visit usaeop.com.