Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Community College Students Get Research Experience, Chance at Scholarships with A&M-Kingsville Maymester Program

KINGSVILLE - June 12, 2007

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

Featured L-R in attached photo: Matthew Lewis and Syed Irfan
present their Maymester research work.

Students from Del Mar College, Palo Alto College and Texas State Technical College came together for two weeks at Texas A&M University-Kingsville to become active members of ongoing faculty research projects through the unique Maymester program.

Twenty-seven science, engineering and mathematics students were organized into one- and two-person teams when they arrived on campus Monday, May 14. Each of those teams was placed with an A&M-Kingsville faculty member, who made them temporary members of his or her research group. The represented fields of study in Maymester included engineering (civil, architectural, chemical, electrical and mechanical), mathematics, chemistry and physics.

For two weeks, the students took part in the day-to-day lab and field work. At program’s end Friday, May 25, the students presented their research experiences and the knowledge they gathered to the faculty and student participants of Maymester. The top three team presentations were awarded one-time scholarships to Texas A&M-Kingsville valued at $1,000, $600 and $300.

The program had an interesting twist in store for most of its participants, though—they would be placed into fields of study outside of their major.

“Maymester gives students a chance to see the research process first-hand,” said Sheryl Custer, executive assistant to the dean of the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering. “That includes learning how overcome the daily obstacles that occur.”

Dr. Kuruvilla John, associate professor of environmental engineering and associate dean of the College of Engineering, was more than pleased with the outcome of this year’s Maymester. “The Maymester research experience was an outstanding success, considering that this was only the second year that we were hosting this activity, sponsored by the National Science Foundation-funded TAMUK-STEP project,” he noted.

TAMUK-STEP: A Model for Student Success and Persistence,” is a five year grant, initiated in 2005. Its mission is to provide access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees for the predominantly Hispanic population of the South Texas region served by A&M-Kingsville, and to increase the availability of a trained workforce for the state. Objectives of the grant are to increase the number of community college STEM transfers; enhance student success; and improve persistence to degree completion for the predominantly first generation and Hispanic student of South Texas.

“Overall, we had a great bunch of community college students who were extremely motivated in learning about STEM research,” said John. “Their unbridled enthusiasm was on full display during their final presentations.”

One of those students was Adam Morataya of Del Mar College who found himself on an architectural engineering research team.

“I honestly didn't know what to expect,” he said when asked about Maymester. “I knew I would be doing research in architecture but nothing more. 

“Since my background is in information technology, I considered changing research projects.  I'm glad I didn't.  My team won first prize in the project presentation contest.”

Morataya will receive his associate’s degree in applied science in August. After that, he intends on continuing his education, possibly at A&M-Kingsville, a place Morataya said he would be comfortable attending after completing the Maymester program.

If he did return to the university, Morataya would be among a number of fellow program participants. According to Custer, 11 of last year’s 20 Maymester students returned to A&M-Kingsville for their bachelor’s degree.

Participant Anne Crago, also from Del Mar, was able to be a part of research that matched her major of mathematics. She said her motivation for taking part in Maymester was for a credit in her resume. After completing the summer program, it has come to mean more than that.

"Maymester had a huge impact on my future plans, considering I didn't have much of a plan,” said Crago. “It made me realize that I don't want to major in only mathematics. I now want to major in engineering, possibly architectural, and maybe minor in math or study it on the side. It also helped me decide which field of engineering I want to go into when pursuing a job."

John said that Maymester will continue for the duration of the TAMUK-STEP project cycle and hopefully beyond that. “The faculty and staff associated with the TAMUK-STEP project will look for additional funding opportunities to institutionalize this activity, as it will significantly contribute to the recruitment for the Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Engineering at Texas A&M-Kingsville.” 

Maymester Participants, Topic and Faculty Mentor(s)

  • Terron James (Del Mar) and Mirta Smith-Trevino (Palo Alto), “Biofuels from Citrus Waste,” Patrick Mills and Kim Jones
  • Adrian Ortiz (Del Mar) and David McEntire (Del Mar), “Design/Programming of a Bionic Arm,” Larry Peel
  • James Lockwood (Palo Alto) and Paul Reyes (Del Mar), “Civil Engineering-A Real Experience,” Francisco Aguiniga (3rd place scholarship winner)
  • Albert Studer (Del Mar) and Eduardo DeLaCruz (Palo Alto), “Computational Approaches to Solve Difference Equations,” Reza Ahangar
  • Daniel Clancy (Del Mar), “Sol-Gel Derived Nanostructured La1-xSrxCo1-yFey03 Applied for Green Energy Source-Solid Oxide Fuel Cell,” Jingbo Louise Liu
  • Matthew Lewis (Del Mar) and Syed Irfan (Del Mar), “Design and Validation of a Novel Circuit for Fast Scalar Inversion,” Reza Nekovei and Amit Verma
  • John W. Caballero (Del Mar) and Nolan Martin (Del Mar), “Project Mobile Robo,” Selahattin Ozcelik
  • Jose Canales (Texas State Technical College) and Anthony Fuller (Palo Alto), “DC-DC Power Converters,” Muhittin Yilmaz
  • Alberto Martinez (Texas State Technical College) and James Martinez (Palo Alto), “3-D Campus Model and Animation of Texas A&M University-Kingsville,” Jaehyung Yu
  • Billy Biberstein (Del Mar) and Anne Crago (Del Mar), “Optimization,” Hueytzen J. Wu
  • Daniel Gonzales (Del Mar) and Jeremy Murrillo (Del Mar), “Spherical Harmonic Power Spectra,” Dan Suson
  • Amanda Estrada (Del Mar) and Adam Morataya (Del Mar), “Models and the Design Process,” Jim Glusing and Jae-weon Jeong (1st place scholarship winner)
  • Badih Elarba (Del Mar) and J.D. Evans, III (Del Mar), “Programming an Industry Scale Staubli Robot for Desired Tasks,” Selahattin Ozcelik
  • Jose Leyva (Del Mar) and Andy Vigstol (Texas State Technical College), “GIS Based Traveler Information System in Kingsville,” Dazhi Sun

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