Reaching Out to Native American Students and Community Colleges

Achievement date: 

An NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC), the Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN) is based at the University of Arizona (UA), where it has built partnerships with institutions with high populations of Native American students. Recent efforts have included several optics demonstrations to middle and high school students, visits to primary school science classes, and the mentoring of students at institutions of higher education.


Showing children that optics is everywhere, especially in the not-so-obvious tech devices that they are using daily, is educationally enlightening.  It reinforces the STEM classes they already have and encourages them to pursue science and engineering at a higher level.


CIAN has maintained a long-term partnership with the UA Office of Early Academic Outreach, including hosting a Saturday academy at which 90 middle and high school students attended from the Baboquivari Indian Oasis School District from the Tohono O’odham tribal reservation outside of Tucson, Arizona.

CIAN also continued to partner with the UA Office of Early Academic Outreach to provide the Native American Science and Engineering Program (NASEP) for a third year, this time with a cohort of 28 students. The 52 students who have participated in NASEP over the last three years represent the tribes of Tohono O’odham, Navajo, Pascua Yaqui, Apache, and Hopi. 

Relationships with local community college faculty are formed at each of the nine CIAN partner universities to build a mentoring pipeline for high-achieving students. Nine of the 35 CIAN-sponsored student researchers have been recruited from community college programs. All nine of these students are now enrolled in an engineering bachelor’s program and are receiving counseling and support to pursue higher education.