Educational and Research Internship Program (ERIP)

Educational and Research Internship Program
State
Puerto Rico
Academic Level
Graduate
Issue Area
Support Services
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Pathway/Pipeline,
Undergraduate Research

Overview

The program was founded under a US Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Educational and Research Partnership Agreement initiated by federal policy to strive for a workforce of highly trained engineers and scientists with demographics reflective of the national population. Recruitment strategies were needed for all government organizations to improve representation of traditionally underrepresented groups, including Latinos in engineering fields. For three decades, both UPRM and ERDC have maintained an educational and research relationship for the purpose of:

1. Providing underrepresented Latin-American students a pipeline program that provides them with experiences required to pursue graduate programs and terminal degrees

2. Promoting the professional, educational, and research development of world-class engineers and scientists in Puerto Rico

3. Becoming a source of qualified scientist and engineers for the U.S labor force

Program Description

The UPRM- US Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) ERIP was created with the vision of providing Latinos the opportunity of participating in a Summer Internship alternative learning experience that helps them be motivated to pursue graduate studies and become part of the available research labor force in the nation. The internship experience is a 3 credit-hour course requirement. While at ERDC, students are required to write a formal technical proposal, submit progress reports, a final technical paper, a technical poster, a formal oral presentation, an abstract to a NSF sponsored conference, and the submission of an essay focusing on values obtained during this cultural journey. Research mentors from the ERDC directly supervise their work and progress. Students at UPRM are provided with research assistantship based on federal government wage scale, transportation, and faculty mentoring. The academic mentor assigned at UPRM monitors their class work.

Outcome

Since inception, the program has been able to provide 586 internship opportunities and a valuable professional experience to students in STEM fields, of which about 33% of the students are females. The partnership, which initially included only the UPRM Civil Engineering and Surveying Department, has now grown to include 16 engineering and science academic departments at UPRM. All students in the internship program complete their undergraduate degree, resulting in a 100% undergraduate graduation rate. Of the 586 interns served, 77% pursue graduate school following their internship. The program has resulted in 72 permanent hires for the ERDC. Of those hires, 65% remain with the ERDC and 87% of them are pursuing or completed a graduate degree. This has helped increase the representation of Latinos from 0.5% to now over 5% of the entire ERDC. As part of the USACE Emergency Operations for Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, 25 of the 230+ ERDC deployments were UPRM alumni bringing leadership, expertise and manpower to the recovery and reconstruction of the devastated island.