Each summer, innovative research programs at UNT help students and teachers from across the North Texas region take an interest in science, and a unique language program gives students from Mexico the skills they need to learn English. These are just a few of the programs UNT has created through partnerships with communities and other institutions of higher education.
"Inspiring students from all over and at any age to expand their knowledge and take on new challenges is part of UNT's bold goal to build relationships that help make our region and world stronger," says Warren Burggren, provost and vice president of academic affairs.
Transfer student engagement
Through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UNT offered two summer experiences to engage community college students in science and research at the university level.
Since 2010, UNT has partnered with community colleges in the North Texas region to offer its HHMI Summer Transitions Program for Community College Students. The two-tier program includes a Transitions Summer Workshop to introduce community college students to research in a university setting and a Transitions Summer Research Experience, giving them research experience in UNT's cutting-edge laboratories with research faculty as mentors.
In July, community college student Kadi McNew transferred to UNT after participating in the programs for two summers. Now planning a career in medicine, she was inspired by working with Michael Hedrick, professor of biological sciences, and his team of researchers to study how well baroreceptors function under stress in three different varieties of frogs. Humans also have baroreceptors and this research could contribute to the medical field in the future, McNew says.
"The experience helped me decide to transfer to UNT and become a biology major," she says. "The UNT-HHMI program also made me realize I want to further my own research."
Teacher research experiences
UNT's Research Experiences for Teachers in Sensor Networks program is supported by a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant and provides the opportunity for middle and high school teachers to spend six weeks learning engineering-based research projects and lessons to take back to their classrooms and share with students. In its second year, the program partners the teachers with UNT faculty mentors.
This summer, 11 secondary teachers from six school districts in the North Texas region participated in the program. They used electrical engineering concepts and tools to investigate air and water quality and looked into the impact of emissions on the area's carbon footprint. They also learned about equipping robots with depth-capable vision.
"This program is crucial in promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines among high school students," says Miguel Acevedo, Regents Professor of electrical engineering and program coordinator. "And engaging teachers in research goes a long way in accomplishing this goal."
English as a second language
For 10 years, UNT has partnered with the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico at Toluca to offer UAEM students the opportunity to attend UNT's Linguistics and Technical Communication Department's Summer Institute. This summer, a group of 74 students, faculty and staff from UAEM participated in the program at UNT.
The students spend time in ESL classes with other students at their proficiency level to increase their fluency in English through cultural immersion and unique social interaction activities. Students have attended workshops on a variety of subjects, including performing arts, oral presentation skills and business English, and take field trips for recreational activities.
"We tailor these activities and classroom curriculum so that UAEM students can easily learn English from their experiences here," says Kristin Baer, director of the LTC Summer Institute. "We also require UAEM students to only speak English most hours of the day, which is instrumental to them learning English during their time at the institute."