On August 4, students, faculty, and staff gathered on the Menifee Valley Campus to kick off what would be six days of STEM Summer Bridge spanning two campuses, and field trips as far as San Diego and Los Angeles Counties. While MSJC has offered Summer Bridge programs in the past, this was the first Summer Bridge dedicated to STEM students and STEM studies. The STEM Summer Bridge was envisioned as a way to bring students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math together for an intensive hands-on introduction to careers and academic pathways in Science and Technology. The STEM Summer Bridge was a signature feature in MSJC’s $1.8 million CCRAA STEM grant application. The Menifee Valley Campus Bridge was held Aug. 4, 5, & 6, with a mirror San Jacinto Campus Bridge held the following week, Aug. 11, 12, & 13. According to STEM Grant Project Director Carlos Lopez, student registration for this event exceeded every expectation. Finding adequate and appropriate spaces to host student and parent general sessions, meals, and multiple technical breakout sessions proved a logistical challenge in itself. “We were bursting at the seams” Lopez said. Field Trip transportation, Spanish translation for parents were just a few of the myriad challenges that the STEM team faced in putting these back-to-back events together.
Day 1 of the three day bridge provided all participants an overview of STEM careers and academic pathways. In the opening General Session STEM Faculty advisors provided students an overview of opportunities and challenges facing STEM students. “Alex” Alejandro Alatorre, of Alatorre Engineering presented a dynamic general session entitled ‘I am an Engineer’. Afternoon rotation activities included an introduction to Computer Programming, DNA Extraction, and Statistical Analysis, and concluded with an evening General Session that included student parents and a discussion of the challenges and rigors of STEM.
In Day 2, after breakfast, bridge participants were able to hear from former STEM graduates and choose from industry and educational breakout sessions that included UCR Bourns College of Engineering, Abbott Vascular, IBM Corp, and local Science and Technology employers. In the afternoon, students were able to elect an area of focus with activity breakouts that included Digital Circuits, and the very popular Pig Dissection breakout [See Gallery for Photos].
Day 3 of each Bridge was dedicated to STEM related Field Trips. Field Trip options included a tour of the Beckman Center for Conservation Research – home of the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) and The Page Museum in Los Angeles, home of the famous La Brea Tar pits. Students interested in Technology and Engineering had an opportunity to participate in all day intensive technology emersion program at the Menifee Business and Technology Center. Hands-on labs led by MSJC technology faculty mentors included 3D Animation software (Don Smith), CAD Engineering Software (Glenn Stevenson), Business Technology Applications (Caren Hennessy), and Graphic Design (Jason Bader). “This was just a terrific event that highlights the benefit of having multiple technology platforms and disciplines under one roof”, said STEM Faculty Coordinator Dwight Duffie. “There was something magical about seeing a cohort of students move from 3D Animation to CAD Design, and then Graphic Design. You could see the mental connections being made”.
STEM Faculty and staff team members were both invigorated and exhausted from putting together back-to back STEM programs on two campuses. By the conclusion of this marquee Summer STEM event, over 70 underrepresented students had been served, with nearly a dozen MSJC faculty, and countless support staff participating. Caren Hennessy, Business Technology presenter summed it up when she stated “This is what it’s all about, getting students excited about the possibilities that STEM Careers and Academic Pathways offer”.