Howard Students Take STEM to AFRICA


Thirty-two Howard University undergraduate students from science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields will travel to eight countries this summer to conduct research projects as participants in National Science Foundation-funded Global Education, Awareness and Research Undergraduate Program (GEAR-UP).

The program to increase global engagement of graduates in engineering and other sciences through study and research abroad is spearheaded by the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences (CEACS). In addition to the multi-year $5 million grant, GEAR-UP is supported by the Office of the Provost. This year, GEAR-UP expanded to eight countries, from six countries a year ago. Students will conduct research in Cameroon, South Africa, Senegal, Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey and Kenya.

“National statistics suggest that very few African Americans have the opportunity to travel abroad to study or do research,” said Lorraine Fleming, Ph.D., the GEAR-UP director and a professor of civil engineering. “Our mission at Howard is to produce leaders for America and the global community. GEAR-UP is doing just that by allowing students a first-hand opportunity to practice as engineers and scientists in a global setting.”

In Cameroon, engineering students will use wireless networks to collect seismic data. In South Africa, students will test silicon detectors in nuclear physics labs. In Senegal, a student will use molecular biology techniques to investigate HIV resistance to antiretroviral therapy. 

In Mexico and Thailand, GEAR-UP students from Howard will study microbial fuel cells, evaluate encryption in embedded devices, and study green technology in communications. In the Philippines, the students will study artificial intelligence and mobile learning for literacy. In Kenya, they will study wastewater treatment plants. Research projects in Turkey include computer programming and battery management in electrical and self-directed vehicles.

The participating international universities are: Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand; University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya; Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines; University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon; University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa; Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey; University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, Dakar, Senegal; and Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado de Puebla, Puebla, Mexico. 

Diamond Crumby, a chemistry sophomore who will travel to Senegal, said she hoped the GEAR-UP experience would give her a chance to develop stronger research skills.

“The program opens a lot of doors for undergraduates,” she said. “What makes the program so wonderful is that you get to go to a foreign country and do amazing research and get an opportunity to be published.”

Sarah Jones, a junior in computer science who will study in the Philippines, said she learned about the program from students who had participated in previous years. Jones said the trip will be her first outside of the United States.

“This is going to be completely new,” she said. “I’ve never been this far from my parents. But at the same time, I am very excited to see what the world is like.” 

Howard Students Take STEM to AFRICA

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