This Fall, Inventors Student Ambassadors and Teaching Assistants deepened program development, led new initiatives, developed new events, and mentored prospective students. They organized into ten working committees: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, External Network Development, Student Mentoring, Practicum Course, Internal Network Development, K-12 Outreach, Database Resource Development, Communications, Program Logistics Support,and Events. Read more about their goals and accomplishments this Fall!
Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee
The Inventors Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee was formed to uphold our mission to support and serve the diverse student body and the scientific community at UT Austin. We consult with other committees to employ best practices, develop fair and equitable recruiting efforts and consolidate resources that promote student voices in order to create a safe and inclusive environment for all students. This semester we conducted Microaggression and Implicit Bias training, attended the Intersectionality Workshop hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Center, consolidated DEI resources offered throughout the UT campus, created a list of BIPOC faculty at UT for faculty spotlights, researched different ways to make surveys more effective and inclusive, and updated the Inventors blog with reflections on DEI holidays and celebratory occasions. We plan to continue expanding our network of student resources and do a more in-depth analysis of our demographics and survey data.
External Development Committee
The External Development committee is a committee that develops connections and networks with outside companies that are not affiliated with UT. We are pleased to announce that we have developed a spreadsheet to contact companies. A few of our members have done extensive literature reviews for future grants and publications on our program. We hope to connect with more companies and have an overview of our program published.
Goals we accomplished;
- Writing a grant (it didn’t go through, but it was written for use in future grants)
- Contact companies in the Austin area
- Expand our network of Inventors Program expert mentor contacts
Student Mentoring Committee
The student mentoring committee is committed to serving the students at UT Austin. We have met with prospective students via email to get them involved in inventors and get them connected R&D learning in STEM at UT Austin. Our team has worked on creating a questionnaire for student to host student consultations. Also, we have developed a Q&A database to answer all student questions on inventorship and entrepreneurship. We hope to build our network of students and future inventors. We have redesigned our mission statement and have a mission on creating an inclusive environment for students from all backgrounds. We hope to stay connected with students (past, present and future). We give descriptions of our courses to prospective students and assist students on joining existing projects. We hope for students to network with their Research Educators and their peers. We hope to stay connected with students who have gone through the Inventors course by having alum stay on as ambassadors, TAs and researchers . Our team would like to create a follow-up survey for former students and student staff.
Practicum Course Committee
As the Practicum Course Committee, our main focus is to ensure that the following semesters practicum course has the necessary resources and structure for our students to gain the most out of the course. In particular, our committee works towards expanding course credit to a diverse range of majors and certificates, creating contact lists for guest speakers and sponsors, and inventing new ways to introduce students to sponsored companies for hiring and internships.
During this semester, we worked alongside our program coordinator to secure professors to teach in the upcoming semester’s practicum courses. This gave us the opportunity to get into contact with many faculty working with undergraduates in cutting-edge science and technology research and incorporate them into our Inventors contacts. During this semester, we were able to gain approval for practicum courses to count for credit for the Computational Science & Engineering certificate, Elements of Computing certificate, Securities Studies Certificate, and several Bridging Disciplines Program certificates. We were also able to ensure CS students could receive upper division CS credit through the Inventors Practicum courses.
Going forward, we would like to expand our list of course sponsors to include a greater variety of industries. We would also like to determine what credit would best incentivize prospective Inventors to take the practicum courses and expand the courses to offer those credits as well.
Internal Development Committee
The Internal Development committee is in charge of working internally in UT and creating connections between faculty and students. This semester, we switched around our work quite frequently, where we first did a lot of trying to find faculty to do events with for either sprints or panels, but we shifted gear to working on bettering the connection within faculty and students especially on the research and innovation end. We worked on creating a Qualtrics survey and reached out to research faculty to better understand challenges for both faculty and students in collaborating in research. We hope to also learn about accessibility challenges, especially for students with disabilities or from underrepresented groups, as well as virtual R&D challenges. We aim to conduct interviews next semester as well as possibly develop more resources to help students access hands on science opportunities on campus and beyond.
K-12 Outreach Committee
We are excited to be the first K-12 Outreach committee within the Inventors Program. Our goal is to reach a diverse set of future scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and inventors! The K-12 Outreach committee has reached multiple high schools across Texas and has developed partnerships with Austin Energy. The team has created an engaging curriculum to be incorporated into high schools that focus on relevant topics, such as COVID-19 and STEM Policy. Each of our team members come with a diverse background and unique skill set. We hope to continue serving students in a new capacity and participate as science fair judges in the Austin Regional Science Festival in 2021.
Database Resource Committee
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Database Development committee was formed to provide UT students with a centralized platform to access COVID research opportunities. We have created a web database with openings from UT Austin, Stanford University, and Virginia Tech. Currently, we are working to include a filtering option to better customize search results. However, in the process of doing so, we discovered that a change in the code infrastructure is needed to successfully complete the filter. For next semester, we will be switching to React, which has more resources available that fits our needs.
Hi, hey, hello! We are the communications committee and we are the intermediary between the awesome people working in Inventors and our students. This semester we have finalized and developed our newsletter made a TikTok and developed a better methodology for our marketing and outreach. We hope to redesign our website and create a better social media presence next semester.
Program Logistics Committee
The Program Logistics Committee is the one-stop shop for anything committee related! We are in charge of organizing and creating guidelines as to how each Inventor’s committee operates. This past semester, we worked on creating “Standard Operating Procedure” (SOP) documents which include important information for each committee such as what their purpose is, when they meet, any tools they use and more. All of our members worked on creating SOP documents for the Internal Development, External Development, Practicum Course, and Database Development committees and wrote a guideline on how to efficiently evaluate a problem statement for the practicum courses. In the future, we hope to complete SOP documents for all the remaining committees!
The events committee is in charge of conducting Science and Inventors sprints each semester. Usually, these are in person 8-hour events that resemble a hackathon and are intense problem-solving sessions. Due to COVID-19, this semester all of the Science and Inventors sprints were held virtually via zoom and were a maximum of 4 hours. To our surprise, we still had over 100 students attend these virtual sprints and received good feedback from them. We held a total of three science sprints and four inventors sprints.