ERC’s Young Scholar Experience Goes Virtual for Broader Reach and Impact

Achievement date: 

To continue to engage students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST), headquartered at North Carolina State University, revamped its Young Scholar experience into a two-week virtual summer program and a six-week Saturday-only fall program.


The virtual program was an important tool for maintaining engagement with students who have an interest in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology when in-person events were not feasible. The virtual format had the added benefit of broadening the program’s reach to a larger and more diverse student community.


Although it was difficult to completely replace the immersive experience of being in a laboratory, the NSF-funded Center continued to engage students during the COVID-19 pandemic through virtual modules that included both technical and professional development topics. Students were also provided with kits of materials to work on projects at home. The modules were linked to the Wearable Device Challenge and by the end of the program, each student had designed, built, and presented a working, wearable device prototype that addressed a health-related issue.

The virtual program had the added benefit of broadening the program’s reach and impact. Students who did not live close enough to one of the Center’s partner schools to commute daily to the in-person program were able to participate fully in the virtual program.