Student Integrated Intern Research Experience Begins Third Academic Year

Design by Tamara Ellenbecker

In the fall of 2013 Manuel Rossetti, professor of industrial engineering, and colleagues piloted a new research program funded by the National Science Foundation, which provides students completing their bachelor degree a scholarship. In addition to the scholarship, the program provides professional development seminars and an assigned mentor. The seminars are on topics important to students seeking their degree and encourage students to consider the possibility of graduate school after graduation. This new program is titled Student Integrated Intern Research Experience, or SIIRE.

The SIIRE research team consists of five faculty members, Manuel Rossetti; Kim LaScola Needy, professor and dean of the Graduate School and International Education; Ed Clausen, professor of chemical engineering; Carol Gattis, associate dean of the Honors College; and Micah Hale, professor of civil engineering.

Some of the seminar topics include: Good Enough for Government Work – Ethics and Professionalism; Developing Research Skills in Engineering and Science; How To Be An Effective Sophomore; Career Preparation; Create Your Unique Personal Development Plan: Explore Your Options; Oral and Written Communication; Academic Goal Setting and General Graduate School Information.

Fall 2015 SIIRE students.

Ailon Haileyesus

Ailon Haileyesus, Biomedical Engineering senior and SIIRE recipient, said she has a desire to use her education and technical skills to tackle global challenges, "as an engineer, I will be in a position where I can make a significant contribution to society." Ailon hopes to use her degree to work with an interdisciplinary team to develop innovative medical devices while simultaneously empowering lives through entrepreneurship. Ailon was recently recognized by the Arkansas Alumni Association as a Senior of Significance.

As SIIRE begins this third year, there are currently forty students from all engineering disciplines in the College of Engineering participating in the program. Of those, two students completed a co-op internship in spring 2015. This semester, one SIIRE student is participating in a co-op internship in Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

Tu Nguyen

Tu Nguyen did her co-op with Rheem Manufacturing in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She enjoyed more time to spend on projects she was given, which allowed her to strengthen her skills. She said, "Some unexpected benefits were the many opportunities for me to improve the facility within a 6 month period, and the projects were varied throughout the days and the weeks. Some projects took months and others took days. Thus, I had a chance to either complete the project or complete a small phase of the project."

Tu explained that it was through Dr. Rossetti's connections she was able to participate in the co-op experience at Rheem. She said SIIRE has helped her with the common difficulties encountered by undergraduates and gain experience to face interviews and career fairs. She said it has "also given me a mentor that I can rely on. I am thankful to be a part of SIIRE."

SIIRE scholarship recipient, Theodore Christian, worked on co-op with a defense contractor. He enjoyed the advantage of being a part of a team, using the knowledge he gained in class in the real world. He said the people he met through the co-op, really cared about his success and the staff became 'mentors'. Theodore also shared, "The value of SIIRE is great, from the scholarship to the seminar and the mentors, it was a great decision to participate, truly a decision that will have benefits long after my undergraduate experience."

While the percentage of women in the College of Engineering has been historically near 20%, SIIRE is attracting, on average (41.9 percent) female students.  The percentage of students in the College of Engineering reported as ethnic minority is near 22 percent and the SIIRE percentage of 53.5 percent ethnic minority students is significantly more than the population in the college. Increasing the awareness of this population to the possibilities and advantage of graduate school is one of the key aims of SIIRE.

Two SIIRE students graduated in 2015, both received job offers and accepted the positions and both offers were in STEM fields, in the student's engineering discipline. By spring 2015, 63 percent of the SIIRE students reported either an internship or research related experience. As of fall 2015, 54 percent of the eligible SIIRE students have applied for graduate school.

About SIIRE: The goal of the SIIRE project is to increase the number of students that complete a bachelor's and master's engineering degree program with experience to tackle real-life problems in industry. SIIRE provides students a structured pathway to success starting as early as the sophomore year and continuing through graduate studies. Integrated industry-based internships, on-campus university-based research and renewable scholarships provide the cornerstones of the SIIRE program.

This program advances the discovery of dissemination of research that bridges undergraduate experiences with the attainment of graduate engineering degrees. Furthermore, it strengthens industry partnerships and develops highly trained workforces, by systematically creating a pipeline of diverse engineering professionals. For mor information


Tamara O. Ellenbecker, media specialist
Industrial Engineering
(479) 575-3157,

Camilla Shumaker, director of communications
College of Engineering


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