STEM forum explores research findings


Denis Perez

Engineering major Manuel Ayala (right) presents a rocket his team worked on during the semester during the inaugural Student Research Symposium event held in Fireside Hall on May 4.

By Reggie Santini, Spotlight Editor

Students presented the findings of their various scientific research projects on May 4 during the Inaugural Student Research Symposium event held in Fireside Hall.

Four groups presented their findings during the event.

Each research project featured different parts of the Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) Initiative.

The projects ranged from studying the soil of Urban Tilth’s farm, to the creation of an unmanned remote sensing rocket.

HSI STEM Coordinator Kelly Ramos said, “The students are doing real research with real findings. There is no wand waving.”

Engineering major Manuel Ayala was part of the team that helped develop the unmanned rocket. Ayala said he thinks the event was successful because everyone tried to make the complex presentations as simple as possible.

“I hate going to presentations that are overly technical. It makes people dislike science,” he said.

Ayala said there has been fewer and fewer students interested in STEM fields.

“By making things more simple people are drawn into the presentation and hopefully into the STEM field. I try to place everyone on the same playing field,” Ayala said.

Political science major Talia Padilla said the great thing about the event is that it helps draw attention and gets students excited about science.

“This event really helps show people that science is not boring,” she said.

“I really think everyone was able to see a variety of projects and see how science is applied to different things,” she said.

Each group’s professor introduced their own students before the entrants presented their findings.

Geology professor Alan Santistevan said he originally started working with his students on their research projects before the event was in place.

While they planned, he worked to get his students a platform to present their work.

Ramos said Santistevan asked their department to set up this forum as a culmination of all the professional level research that the students have been doing.

Santistevan said, “This really teaches students how to present at a professional level and how to communicate their findings. It looks great on a resumé.”

He said the students’ research experience will benefit them no matter where they go from here.

Ramos said students will be doing a lot of presentations when they transfer to higher levels of education.

By having events like these they can dip their toes in different fields and begin developing the skills needed to present scientific findings, she said.

The presenters were given a short amount of time to go over their research. Much of the deeper facts and processes of the research were explained following the presentation on poster boards.

Each group stood by their project following the speech portion of the event and waited to answer any questions attendees might have.

Ayala said the posters help showcase their findings. “Even at a community college we are doing great projects. We are showing the upper division schools that we can do it.  We are proving that we aren’t nobodies.”

Ramos said the event had a great turnout and that she looks forward to working with the STEM team to continue to develop this event for next spring.

“I think that allowing people to see what STEM is at Contra Costa College is a great way to promote the science in our community,” Ramos said.