Building community for underrepresented minorities may be key to American competitiveness in the sciences

August 22, 2013

MSRP 2013

On the blackboard in this MIT classroom, a list of positives and negatives are represented not with pluses and minuses but with pluses and deltas.  The Greek letter here stands for “change,” as it does in myriad formulas familiar to these undergraduate students of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  The distinction in symbols comes from a spirit that favors momentum to inertia, because here — where the ultimate goal is innovation — an outcome that isn’t positive needn’t be final or permanent.

The two graduate students who serve as advisors to this group of 11, POD 2, are leading them through a call-out session where everyone must share something good and something that needs to be changed from their past week as summer research interns.  A young woman records the running tally. The students are almost entirely women and minorities severely underrepresented in the STEM fields — African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans — the target demographic of the MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP).

Every summer, MSRP brings approximately 50 undergraduate students from different universities and colleges to MIT for nine weeks, hoping that by the time they return to their home campuses for the new school year, they will have decided to pursue a graduate degree in STEM. Continue reading at Aljazeera America. Photo by Justin Knight Photography. 

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