Outreach SOS

Plugging the Leaks in the Education Pipeline

STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fuel San Diego’s knowledge economy. Unfortunately, many of the region’s K–20 (kindergarten through graduate) students currently leak out of the STEM education pipeline.

In summer 2013, the university’s Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) joined campus colleagues and community supporters in launching CREATE STEM Success. The initiative links faculty, staff, and students across multiple campus divisions with the local education community in a systematic effort to help underserved students succeed.

UC San Diego has many successful STEM outreach programs underway. The new initiative will strengthen existing and future activities through coordination, assessment, planning, and funding strategies.

Seeing is believing—and learning

The nineteenth annual Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences (CAARMS), hosted by UC San Diego in 2013, demonstrated how applicable mathematics is in the real world. Participants included researchers in both pure and applied mathematics such as information technology, banking, neuroscience, and engineering. Students from high school to graduate school as well as postdoctoral scholars attended.

Of the 1,430 mathematical sciences doctorates awarded nationally in 2008–09, just 2.5 percent went to scholars who self-identified as African Americans. UC San Diego’s support for CAARMS is one of many initiatives to mitigate this disparity.

Chancellor's Associates Scholars Program

The Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program aids local students in realizing their dream of a college education. Gompers Preparatory Academy, Lincoln High School, and The Preuss School UCSD work with historically underserved communities. In fall 2013, graduates from these three local high schools became eligible for a new undergraduate scholarship program—the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars, providing $10,000 annually for four years at UC San Diego. To qualify, students must be accepted to UC San Diego and be eligible for the University of California’s Blue + Gold Opportunity Plan, which covers educational and student services fees for California residents whose families earn less than $80,000 a year and meet the university’s standards for financial aid.

Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program announcement; From left: 2013 Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Kimberly Rios, Efrain Gonzalez, and Jesenia Carreon.

Summer Science Camp at Qualcomm Institute

Early outreach is critical to the campus mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion. A visit to the UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute in 2013 provoked a heated scientific debate among nine-year-olds about the history of aviation. It was part of a tour arranged for the Elementary Institute of Science (EIS), a summer camp for elementary and middle school students interested in the STEM fields. Several EIS instructors are UC San Diego students.

Robot Hat Day, a six-week summer program of the Qualcomm Institute in 2013, focused on fourteen-to-sixteen-year-old girls from low-income neighborhoods. For many of the girls, it was their first taste of engineering and an opportunity to learn about robotics and the basics of programming.

Extension Reaches Out

UC San Diego Extended Studies nimbly serves knowledge and skill development needs as they arise. In academic year 2012–13, 1,700 Extension students enrolled in STEM courses, and 475 high school students participated in the Academic Connections summer program. Geared toward high-achieving high school students and covering a wide range of academic disciplines, Academic Connections offered college-level classes at UC San Diego, Los Alamos Labs in New Mexico, and Biosphere in Arizona and Hawaii. Scholarships were provided for 25 percent of the students.