Celyn Matienzo, Student
Class of 2017, Major: English
For the second summer in a row, the UCI Gifted Students Network partnered with the Qatar Foundation in designing a customized science program for Qatari high school students. UCI welcomed more than 20 Qatari high school boys and girls from different high schools who want to pursue careers in science and engineering. The program was designed and arranged by the UCI Gifted Students Network Director, Dr. Darlene Boyd and the Gifted Students Network science instructional staff.
The students spent the first week of their three-week program training in Doha where they could meet with a UCI representative to familiarize themselves with the American academic research experience. The students spent the next two weeks in residence on the UCI campus, housed in the UCI housing village. Students also participated in daily seminars with UCI faculty, focusing on topics including fuel cell research, global climate change, neuroscience, robotics, social sciences, and ocean engineering. Students could also visit the Reeve Nerve Regeneration Lab, Reikensmeyer Robotics Lab, and the Beckman Laser Institute.
Alongside their academic experiences, students engaged in cultural learning activities including a tour of the Southern California region, sailing on Newport Harbor, and visiting places such as the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Back Bay Science Center, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.
One of the most prominent facets of the program was in the involvement of six UCI undergraduate students in UCI’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). This part of the program was under the direction of UROP Director, Said Shokair. The UROP students presented their research to the Qatari students, who then had the opportunity to work with a student whose specific field matched the Qatari student's interest. Under faculty supervision, the Qatari high school students were allowed to shadow their undergraduate mentors in faculty labs and to experience more direct research as a supplement to faculty lectures.
Working with UCI’s undergraduates not only provided the visiting students with a chance to move quickly into more aspects of discovery and research, but also helped the students form lasting relationships with the UCI undergraduates. Some students still maintain contact with their UCI student mentors through email, video conferencing, and other means. Dr. Darlene Boyd reports that for the third year, UCI will welcome the return of Qatari high school students.
The UCI Gifted Student Network customized international programs have been offered in a variety of formats with students from many countries including China, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, and South Korea.