By Sherry DiBari

It was a busy summer for the Remote Experience for Young Engineers and Scientists (REYES) volunteers. Professors, researchers and behind-the-scenes staff worked tirelessly to provide more than 75 free virtual STEM-H presentations and workshops to a global audience.

REYES received over 3,500 registrations from students representing 104 countries around the world. Students of all ages hailed from diverse geographic areas, including Afghanistan, Botswana, India, Bulgaria, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

REYES, hosted by Old Dominion University, began in 2020 when an in-person program, High-Achieving Latinxs in Engineering and Science (HALES), was canceled due to the pandemic.

REYES aims to increase STEM-H literacy, inspire and train the next generation of scientists, building a tech talent pipeline for minorities underrepresented in STEM fields.

The inaugural summer program was a huge success and led to another season of offerings for 2021.

"In our first two years, more than 11,000 future scientists and engineers from 135 countries have registered for our program," said Giovanna Genard, ODU's assistant vice president for strategic communication and marketing, and co-founder of REYES.

The program later expanded to include a monthly lecture series throughout 2020 and 2021.

With virtual programming, REYES is able to remove barriers and provide access to an inclusive learning experience about cutting-edge research and technology.

The 2021 programming covered a wide variety of subjects, including artificial intelligence; physics; fluid and molecular engineering; Python coding; the science of CT scans; and cybersecurity.

Keynote speakers included Jim West, inventor of the electret microphone, astronaut José Hernández and popular YouTube physicist Mithuna Yoganathan.

This year, several courses were offered in Spanish.

All of the presentations from 2020 and 2021 can be found on the REYES YouTube page, ensuring the material continues to be widely available.

This year, REYES added an extra component; a virtual research-based mentorship open worldwide to students of all ages, as well as non-U.S. citizens.

Interest in the program was very popular - 280 students representing 38 countries - were accepted for mentorship positions.

Professors, researchers and graduate students from ODU, Florida International University, six universities in Mexico and one in India, volunteered their time to provide the free research experiences.

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