By Jeline Abutin
The Office of Undergraduate Research at Cal Poly Pomona celebrated its relocation on Wednesday with an open house, which educated and promoted its programs to students and faculty.
“We’re expanding,” said Everardo Barraza, the project coordinator at OUR-CPP. “We have a lot more room here. In our last building, we only had room for three people; now, we’ve expanded to about eight.”
“We wanted more space,” said Amanda Riggle, the special events coordinator at OUR-CPP. “We actually implemented a peer mentor program for students who are getting involved, so we needed space for mentors to come and help the students.”
Winnie Dong, the director of OUR-CPP, created it in fall 2013
“I’ve always seen the power of undergraduate research and why we need it, so when I realized that there was no central place for students to get that information, that’s what we decided to do,” said Dong.
OUR-CPP’s mission is to increase student participation and awareness in undergraduate research programs across all disciplines.
“We’re really here to support students and also faculty members who want to encourage undergraduates to do research,” said Dong. “The reason why we want to do that is because undergraduate research has been shown to improve student success, so that’s in terms of persistence, graduation as well as students feeling more involved in their major. We want every student at Cal Poly Pomona to have that opportunity.”
Since its inception, OUR-CPP has become a resource for students who want to further their education.
“What interested me was the fact that it is going to help me get into a master’s program, since I will have done two years of undergraduate research. That’s why I committed,” said Megan Nakamura, a third-year English student.
The office is also an opportunity for students to gain real world experience.
“The biggest thing students take away is that they get hands on experience,” said Barraza. “One thing is learning theory in the classroom, another thing is practicing it. Students that go through our program get to actually practice what they learn in class. Students meet with faculty one-on-one. They get to create research projects, [and] they can learn certain skills that are outside of the classroom, such as public speaking, presenting professional work and mastering their coursework.”
OUR-CPP offers a variety of research opportunities and programs: the Achieve Scholars Program, McNair Scholars Program, CAMPARE, UCConnect, Engineering Scholars Program, the National Institutes of Health RISE program, Cal-Bridge and LSAMP.
“We have the Achieve Scholars Program, which is new, [and it] has gained a lot of popularity,” said Riggle. “We have the Engineer Scholars Program, ESP ” I think we had over 80 applications this year. [It] was way more that we have had in the past. For our Student Research Conference, we usually have about 150 students presenting research. Everything is really busy through here.”
Distributing scholarships or grants is an opportunity that the office offers to students who are interested in research.
“If students want to get involved with us, we will help them as much as we can,” said Marion Barleta, a third-year marketing student and student assistant at OUR-CPP. “That’s the whole point of our office, to help students perform research. We will go out of our way to make sure that they get the best experience out of it.”
Barleta has been working as a student assistant for OUR-CPP for three months and has greatly appreciated working with the staff and faculty.
“I think the biggest thing is the overall support that these individuals who work here give,” said Barleta. “They are so supportive of our decisions. I don’t really get [that] anywhere else. They are the type of individuals that will push you to go for other opportunities that you may be unsure of.”
Despite the vast amount of opportunities OUR-CPP provides students, it is the sense of discovery that pushes students to pursue undergraduate research.
“You find out about things that you wouldn’t know about,” said Barleta. “There’s a level of excitement to it because you’re discovering something that no one else has discovered before. You really have this sensation that you’re actually contributing to other people’s experiences, since your research can be used elsewhere.”
Previously located in Building 1, OUR-CPP has moved to Building 9, room 258 to accommodate more students, faculty and office programs.
Jeline Abutin / The Poly Post
Office of Undergraduate Research
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