Computer Science & Engineering Technology Department Awarded $256,681 From NSF
Undergrads Now Have Another Opportunity to Get Hands-On Research Experience
By Laura Wagner
UHD recently received $258,681 from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in support of the Computer Science and Engineering Technology (CSET) department’s program, “Research Experiences in Computational Sciences and Engineering.”
This three-year program, which is open to UHD students as well as undergraduates at other institutions, is designed to improve participating students’ desire to pursue STEM careers and provide the confidence to do well in STEM. The program is expected to help students improve their performance in STEM courses and support their ability and motivation to graduate with STEM degrees. The program also seeks to encourage students to pursue careers related to computational sciences and engineering, pursue graduate studies, challenge themselves for continuous self-improvement, and provide “soft” career skills such as communication.
Dr. Vassilios Tzouanas, Department Chair and Professor of CSET, is the principal investigator on the grant. “We are thrilled to receive this award,” he said. “Both theoretical and applied research are critical to helping students achieve their goals in the sciences. We want to provide students a stimulating academic environment to not only motivate them to pursue a career in STEM fields but also to enhance their desire and passion for research in Computer Science, Engineering, and related sciences.”
Tzouanas explained that the REU program supports intensive research by undergraduate students as either a Site or a Supplement. UHD’s CSET program is an REU Site. Award funds will be used to engage students using a three-pronged strategic approach to research:
- Eight-week summer research experiences.
- Year-long follow-up coaching and mentoring.
- Dissemination of research results through presentations and/or publications (locally and nationally).
“The bulk of the award dollars will be used to provide student stipends that can be used for housing, food, and other basic needs during the student’s research project,” said Tzouanas.
Projects will expose a diverse body of students to problems in computational sciences and engineering as well as approaches to solving them through the application of methods from cybersecurity, data analytics, machine learning, human-centered computing, bioinformatics, process automation, structural engineering, and data-driven safety management. The hands-on experiences will significantly enhance student’s problem-solving skills, appreciation of the role of the scientific method for solving or investigating societal problems, and the link between theory and practice.
Co-principal investigators and research mentors include Dr. Dvijesh Shastri, Dr. Ben Soibam, Dr. Emre Yilmaz, Dr. Henry Foust, Dr. Mahmud Hasan, and Dr. Arash Rahmatian, all members of the CSET faculty.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.