POETS Taps Rich Source of Talented Students at Texas Community College

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Students at San Antonio College (SAC), a community college near the University of Arkansas, spent the summer of 2018 working on projects related to electro-thermal research in a program funded by the Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at the University of Illinois, and of which the University of Arkansas is a partner.


The outreach was a first for the Center into community colleges. The SAC students so impressed Center faculty that POETS is pursuing a transfer agreement with San Antonio College. For the students, the summer experience was life-changing. At the end of the summer, one student spoke to staff at the University of Arkansas, where he transferred and was enrolled at the university. Two other students who attended POETS’ annual conference in the fall at the University also are exploring a transfer there.


While the Center has participated in outreach to other colleges and K-12 schools, the 2017 recruiting program was the Center’s first at community colleges. One SAC student traveled to the University of Illinois to conduct research on using water to cool down components that heat up when generating electric power. Three other students were chosen to conduct their research at the University of Arkansas, working with printed circuit boards to test applications for micro grids—small, self-contained power grids for communities.

“Community colleges are places where there is a lot of untapped potential,” said Dr. Jessica Perez, associate director of Education and Inclusivity for POETS, who added “we were very particular about the community colleges we reached out to.”