Nearly 50 students — two teams from Riverside City College and the Mount San Jacinto campus in Menifee and one team from Moreno Valley College and the Mount San Jacinto campus in San Jacinto — will compete from 2 to 5 p.m. in Room A265 in Bourns Hall. They will give oral presentations and, using a fan, demonstrate the effectiveness of their wind turbines.
The projects and competition are funded by $4.2 million of federal grants UC Riverside has received since 2008 to bring more Hispanic and low-income community college students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Nationally, Hispanic and low-income students are traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics labs, classrooms and the national work force. For example, Science and Engineering Indicators 2010, a National Science Board report, found that Hispanics account for only 4 percent of the nation's engineering and science work force.
Yet, at UC Riverside, which U.S. News and World Report named the fifth most diverse major research university in the nation, Hispanic and low-income students represent about half the university's undergraduate population.
Officials at the UC Riverside STEM Pathway Project focused on wind turbine design because it combines many fields of science and engineering, including mechanical, electrical, aerodynamics, material engineering and physics and math, said Jun Wang, the professional development officer in the Bourns College of Engineering who helped coordinate the projects and competition.
During the past eight weeks, Wang and five UC Riverside undergraduate engineering students — Eugene O'Neill, Marcus Tang, Rianne Garrido, Adriana Figueroa and Garrett Marsala — have visited the community college campuses to work with the students.
At Mount San Jacinto's two campuses, support was so strong that initial thoughts of fielding two teams morphed into three teams. Now, 18 students will compete Friday.
"When this opportunity came up, the students just jumped in," said Alex Cuatok, the student success coordinator at Mount San Jacinto and the UC Riverside/Mount San Jacinto STEM liaison.
The partnership with UC Riverside provides an experience Mount San Jacinto students would not normally receive because the community college doesn't have an engineering program. The program seems to be working, Cuatok said. This year, 12 Mount San Jacinto students applied to UC Riverside and were accepted.