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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Hosts Second Annual Free Virtual REYES (Remote Experience for Young Engineers and Scientists) Program

By Michelle Cragle

Old Dominion University will offer its second annual free virtual STEM-H program, Remote Experience for Young Engineers and Scientists (REYES), beginning on June 28. Registration is free and open to the public at odu.edu/reyes.

The program, which will run through July 23, will cover such topics as astrophysics, entomology, 3D bioprinting, multiple engineering disciplines, physics, psychology, and Python coding.

Keynote speakers for this year's event will include James West, inventor of the electret microphone, and NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez.

Last year, the summer enrichment program provided 81 lectures and reached 7,335 students of all ages in 115 countries, including Brazil, Spain, Germany, India, China and Pakistan.

Old Dominion had previously offered High Achieving Latinxs in Engineering and Science (HALES), a weeklong program geared to high school and college students. But last year, in response to the pandemic, Giovanna Genard, ODU's assistant vice president for strategic communication and marketing, and chair of the HALES planning committee, recommended ODU substitute a virtual STEM-based program to serve students where they live.

"We re-envisioned the original initiative to create a longer-lasting program that is even more inclusive and accessible to students, some of whom may not have the time or resources to attend cost-prohibitive summer camps," said Genard, co-chair of REYES.

"Thanks to the generosity of ODU faculty and researchers from NASA, Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), MIT, University of Puerto Rico, the Berkeley Lab in California and many other organizations that are donating their time and expertise—and a collaboration with the Embassy of Mexico in the U.S.—we are able to offer this program to the public free of charge, aligning with ODU's value of providing an accessible and affordable education," she said. "All of the work is done on a volunteer basis," she added.

Raul Briceño, ODU assistant professor of physics, staff scientist at Jefferson Lab and co-chair of REYES, said, "The REYES program provides students with the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research and technology directly from some of the leading scientists and engineers in their fields."

Briceño, who taught last summer and will again this year, will be doing Python coding live - in Spanish and English - and will then give students a hands-on project to apply what they learned.

"Last year was about inspiring students by introducing them to STEM professions to help them envision themselves in the roles," he said. "This year we are increasing our focus on providing students hands-on, real-world learning opportunities to increase engagement and to show them that they can do the work."

Another addition to REYES this year is a mentorship program between faculty and students, who will be working on a specific research project.

Students can participate live or asynchronously in REYES because all sessions will be recorded.

"The REYES program is a rewarding and enriching experience not only for the students, but for the instructors as well," said Orlando M. Ayala, associate professor of engineering technology in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology. "It's heartening to see the enthusiasm and talent they bring to the classes."

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