This project is partially supporting the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR). This annual event attracts a large diverse group of students and faculty from four-year institutions, two-year colleges, and some high schools for oral and poster presentations highlighting research and scholarly activity performed by undergraduate students. NSF support is reducing the registration fee for all students, providing free registration for up to 60 financially disadvantaged students, supporting evaluative activities, and providing a follow-up workshop for a group of faculty attending the event who are interested in writing proposals to improve student success and retention in STEM. Participation at the conference is expected to encourage groups of STEM faculty from 2- and 4-year institutions to pursue establishing partnerships for undergraduate research and other collaborative projects to help more students succeed in STEM at their institutions.
SCCUR is one of the largest broadly multidisciplinary regional conferences in the United States. The SCCUR's first appearance at a community college in 2011 represents a unique opportunity for outreach to the public, to pre-college students capable of succeeding in STEM fields, and to underrepresented minority communities (Mt. SAC is a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution). This conference engages the public about the innovative science and technology research that students in Southern California perform, and makes parents and families aware of the opportunities for young people in postsecondary STEM education.
The Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) is among the largest multidisciplinary regional conferences in the United States. The goal of the 19th conference, November 2011, was to promote awareness of faculty-mentored undergraduate research in the areas of the physical sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences, arts, and performing arts. The conference provided a forum for students to share their work across disciplinary boundaries in oral or poster presentations, informally over lunch or in other informal gatherings. The 19th annual event was the first time SCCUR was hosted at a two-year college. Because Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) is a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, the event represented a unique opportunity for outreach to the public, to precollege students capable of succeeding in STEM fields, and to underrepresented minority communities that surround the campus. The overarching goal of this project was to successfully host the 19th SCCUR conference, to reduce the registration fee for all participating students, provide free registration for up to 60 financially disadvantaged students, and to host a NSF follow-up grant writing workshop for faculty interested in improving STEM student success and retention. The proposed goals for this project were met all with positive results. The first goal was to increase community college and high school participation in SCCUR. The participation by community colleges and high schools was 24.2% of the total. This was a 10% increase over the 2008-2010 SCCUR data. The second goal was to engage the public with innovative scientific research conducted by undergraduate students. This conference hosted 283 oral presentations and 267 poster presentations. Participation included 674 students from 66 institutions that were mentored by 380 faculty. Seventy-five (75) of the presentations (14% of total) were by students from 14 community colleges. Students from two area high schools also participated. Lastly, a follow-up proposal writing workshop was presented to assist two- and four-year faculty participants to develop collaborative partnerships that support participation of community college students early in STEM research. Satisfaction surveys results from the 35 participants showed that 57% of the responses garnered a five (5 of 5) and an additional 28% garnered a four (4) indicating an 85% satisfaction rate for the workshop.