High school students can apply for STEM apprenticeships at Tech

Louisiana Tech will offer six high school students the opportunity to achieve hands-on experience to develop their process of research and spark their curiosity in STEM curriculum.

Tech was chosen by the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Army Educational Outreach Program as a host site for the AEOP High School Apprenticeships. Students who participate can earn up to $3,000 for 300 hours of the apprenticeship.

“2021 will be our third year to participate in REAP, as we started in 2019 with four students, and had three students participate last summer,” said Chris Campbell, UTeachTech Master Teacher and site director for REAP. “Each student will spend 250 to 300 hours online and in-person with their mentors throughout the summer to learn about their research and work within the lab. Each student has to log weekly hours, attend meetings and create their own presentation about the experience at the end of the summer.”

Tech’s mentors to these high school students include Dr. Joan Lynam in chemical engineering and Dr. Mark DeCoster in biomedical engineering.

“The program places talented high-school students from groups historically under-represented and underserved into research apprenticeships at universities, providing hands-on research projects under direct supervision provided by a mentor,” said DeCoster, a professor of biomedical engineering. “This experience exposes them to the real world of research and allows them to learn about education and career opportunities in STEM.”

As a mentor, DeCoster meets and plans with students but also allows them to work with graduate students, who can help them with training and experiments as well.

“My lab has a number of very active research projects ongoing at the moment, which include the fields of neuroscience and nanotechnology, for example,” he said. “These fields are both very multi-disciplinary, and therefore I have found succeed well when I have a diverse team of individuals. High-school students can bring great energy into a group, and I like that.”

Lynam, an assistant professor in chemical engineering, said students can perform scientific experiments that no one else has conducted and analyze the results.

“Students get to perform hands-on experiments with equipment and experts they would not normally get to experience until much later in their education,” she said. “Research can appear to be a nebulous career path, but this program makes it real for the students. Mentors can be inspired by the students’ enthusiasm at learning new techniques. Students can have a fresh perspective on procedures that can improve the research’s quality.”

Students who are interested in applying should visit is