UCI to host CSULA students as part of $1.25 million NASA grant

July 10, 2015

With support from a $1.25 million NASA grant, UC Irvine’s Data Science Initiative along with Jet Propulsion Laboratory will host Cal State Los Angeles (CSULA) students for short courses on topics such as Introduction to R Programming, Introduction to High Performance Computing, and Introduction to Predictive Modeling. The program is slated to begin this September.

CSULA established the NASA Data Intensive Research and Education Center in STEM (NASA DIRECT-STEM) in May with support from a $5 million NASA grant under NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP), which “strives to ensure that underrepresented and underserved students participate in NASA education and research projects to assist more of these students in their pursuit of STEM careers.” The center focuses on hydrology, climate change and aerospace research, while promoting STEM education among minority and low-income students.

As part of the MUREP grant, $1.25 million dollars will facilitate an educational partnership between UCI and CSULA. The grant will directly support 60 undergraduate and graduate CSULA students in visiting UCI, and indirectly support another 120 students who will participate in the program, according to the project’s Principal Investigator and Computer Science Professor Padhraic Smyth, who is also director of the Data Science Initiative.

“It’s exciting to be educating the next generation of scientists and technologists,” Smyth says. “The UC Irvine faculty are very much looking forward to working with these bright and enthusiastic students and showing them the tremendous opportunities that exist in STEM research fields.”

In addition to the short courses, students will also have the opportunity to explore labs and research groups led by five UCI faculty members from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, and the School of Physical Sciences. UCI Ph.D. students will mentor the visiting CSULA cohort, while UC Irvine faculty will continue their interaction with CSULA students and faculty throughout the year.

Each of the five UCI faculty members will collaborate with a CSULA faculty member over a particular research topic, such as analysis of the earth's water cycle and how it may be changing. The students participating in the program at CSULA will be directly involved in these research projects as well.

Smyth looks forward to the continued impact of the five-year program: “The legacy of this program will be a cohort of students from the program who go on to pursue advanced degrees and become leaders in particular STEM research areas, many of whom would not have chosen a STEM research path were it not for this program.”

— Story by Courtney Hamilton

UCI ICS Feature: UCI to host CSULA students as part of $1.25 million NASA grant