STEM Students: Connecting Science, Community

Two students from the UALR George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology, Daniel Pullen and Anthony Keener, recently demonstrated two essential strengths in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field – conducting original scientific research and communicating that research to a diverse audience.

STEM Posters at the Arkansas State Capitol 2013Pullen and Keener presented their undergraduate research to the public, the media, elected state officials including Gov. Mike Beebe, and fellow undergraduates and faculty from across the state during the STEM Posters at the Arkansas State Capitol earlier this month.

“The ultimate goal of research is to improve the quality of life of our citizens. It is important for our students – some of whom will become the researchers of tomorrow – to understand their obligation to make that connection,” said Abhijit Bhattacharyya, professor of systems engineering and associate dean of EIT.

Keener is a senior in the systems engineering program and Pullen graduated in December 2012 with a degree in information science and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Information Quality at UALR, the first such program in the nation.

“The biggest thing I am getting from this whole experience is that it is really enforcing how important it is to gain research experience at the undergraduate Daniel Pullen speaks to students about his research at STEM Posters at the Arkansas State Capitol 2013level. This helps prepare students, especially those going into their graduate courses, at the master’s and Ph.D. level,” said Pullen.

Pullen’s research, “Helping People Relate to Information Quality,” is designed to instruct organizations on how to make better use of data in order to make strategic business choices.

“Information quality is really important because it affects any field you can think of. The amount of data out there is astounding and the quality of data is important. You do not want to run the risk of making key business decisions based on inaccurate data,” said Pullen.

Bhattacharyya said EIT encourages students and student researchers to participate in interdisciplinary venues such as the Research Day at the Capitol and the UALR Research Expo. According to Keener, collaboration was extremely important to his research.

Anthony Keener presents his research at the STEM Posters at the Arkansas State Capitol 2013“My research, ‘Sharp Memory Alloy Thin-Films,’ is part of a collaborative effort for solar cell research with the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville as part of EPSCoR (Office of Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) of the National Science Foundation,” Keener said. “This is the first undergraduate research I have done. It makes me feel accomplished that I get to conduct research and then showcase it here.

EIT continues to train future researchers including conducting a summer program for college undergraduates who want to pursue graduate studies.

“I am excited to announce that EIT will be hosting a summer undergraduate program for domestic students this year, dubbed the SUPER program (Summer Undergraduate Program of Entrepreneurship and Research),” said Bhattacharyya.

To learn more about EIT programs and research, go to UALR’s Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology.

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