Success of Undergraduate Education Programs Leads to New Funding

Achievement date: 

Undergraduate students gained exposure to industry mentors and research opportunities in energy, with their enthusiasm helping to attract funding for future undergraduate participation at the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at Purdue University.


Two CISTAR programs, Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Experience and Mentoring (REM), inspire students to consider careers in research and energy—particularly students from populations underrepresented in the energy sector. Already, past participants in the programs are working at energy companies or in graduate school.


Weekly mentor seminars gave the REM and REU students insight into the industry and research opportunities, with 100 percent of REM students recommending the program. The theme of “Energy for our Growing World” included tours including a photovoltaics site, Purdue University’s nuclear reactor, and tiny house research demonstrations.

The success of CISTAR’s program led to a request from the National Society of Black Engineers to create promotional material for its Summer Engineering Experience for Kids, a camp at which CISTAR and other REM participants mentor younger students. CISTAR, meanwhile, pitched its REM program to private donors and secured future funding for two REM students.