A revolutionary educational program being offered at Vaughn College this summer hopes to expand engineering and mathematics opportunities for nine students who will be sophomores in September.
The Summer Undergraduate Research Program is a five-week course designed by Dr. Ray Addabbo of the Arts and Sciences faculty. The program hopes to introduce students to sophisticated research methods early in their academic careers. Using a project-based curriculum, students learn different ways to approach a math or engineering problem, resolve it with the help of their classmates and, hopefully, build a relationship with their instructors that continues throughout their time at Vaughn.
It is the first time a research program such as this has been tried at the College.
“By doing this kind of research, we’re hoping to have an impact on students’ learning abilities,” Addabbo explained. “We’re also hoping the students will develop a connection with the faculty and the institution.”
Nine students, selected by invitation, are part of the first program class. Classes run four days each week from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and include topics such as error analysis, numerical differentiation and integration, linear algebra and differential equations linked to mechanical and electrical engineering. Addabbo, Dr. Paul LaVergne, Professor Khalid Mouaouya, Tomasita Ortiz and Dr. Shouling He are the primary instructors. Tomasita Ortiz of the Academic Support Services staff is also assisting with student writing and presentations.
“It’s a unique and valuable program,” LaVergne said. “When these students come back in the fall or spring, for example, we can raise the academic bar knowing they have experienced a lot of this before. It also helps the students feel as if they are part of a group, which studies have shown can enhance academic performance.”
“We were thrilled to move forward with Dr. Addabbo’s idea,” Senior Vice President Sharon DeVivo said. “The College believes this kind of program can significantly enhance student learning outcomes in engineering and other programs.”
He, whose areas of specialization include mechatronics engineering, sees the program as having particular value to students in that program. Vaughn is the only college in the metropolitan area that offers a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics, which employs elements of mechanical, electrical and computer engineer to design “smart” technologies.
“Mechatronics students need to have a broad background in mechanical engineering and electronics,” He said. “Students can make use of the knowledge they gain this summer to help solve problems they’ll encounter as they continue to study engineering.”
Addabbo already can envision this new program growing to serve more students in the future. “This program came about quickly, and there was a lot of enthusiasm from everyone,” Addabbo said. “Hopefully, it grows and over the next few years we can offer it to rising juniors and seniors.”
VAUGHN COLLEGE SUMMER RESEARCH PROGRAM: Students, with Drs. Paul LaVergne (left) and Ray Addabbo of the Arts and Sciences faculty and Tomasita Ortiz of Academic Support Services (front row, black sweater). Front row are David Kweun, Terry Beesoon and Michael Rubenacker; second row, William Babikian, Nicholas Cuneo and Bryan Cook-O’Reilly; back row, Raquel Torres, Zechariah Gajadhar and Andrew Kestler.