FUTURE ENGINEERS OFFERED HANDS-ON TRAINING / AUGUST 8 ISSUE By Ken Keatley Next month, David Yue will add a computer simulation model to junior-level biomedical engineering physiology courses, even though he hasn't found the time to develop it. "It wouldn't have gotten done if I didn't have help," said Dr. Yue, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. "It takes a considerable amount of work. I'm glad to have had someone to do it for me." That someone is John Elfar, a rising junior majoring in biomedical engineering who has spent the summer working as an assistant to Dr. Yue. Elfar is one of seven engineering undergraduates at Johns Hopkins and Morgan State University whose work is being funded this summer by the Undergraduate Engineering Research Opportunities Program. "I don't think there are many physiology courses out there that can claim they have a tailor-made computer model to support the teaching of that course," said Elfar, 20, of Hackensack, N.J. "And I have a vested interest in making it good. I'll be taking the class." Last month, the General Electric Foundation renewed its three-year, $75,000 Faculty for the Future Program grant to Hopkins, which will again invite Morgan State to be a co-sponsor. The program is open to undergraduates in engineering, and preference is given to women and underrepresented minorities in order to encourage them to pursue doctorates and academic careers. Clifford V. Smith Jr., president of the Connecticut-based GE Foundation and a Hopkins graduate, said that 19 academic institutions are currently participating in Faculty for the Future. "Our reports about the Hopkins program are very encouraging, and we are pleased to be able to fund it for the next three years," Dr. Smith said. To date, the Hopkins/Morgan program has offered more than 50 students the opportunity to work on independent research projects under the guidance of a faculty sponsor. "From talking to students, I find that it's really changed their attitude about their careers," said Ross Corotis, associate dean for academic affairs in the Whiting School of Engineering. "They find they can do more than the problems in the back of the book, that they are capable of doing research. It's given them a lot of confidence in themselves." Now that he has finished the computer model project ahead of schedule, Elfar will spend the rest of the summer doing lab work involving the study of ionic channels, an area of electrophysiology. "This program has gotten me so much more interested in my field," Elfar said. "If I hadn't gotten this, I would be doing what poor kids in Hackensack do for work in the summer. It definitely wouldn't have been in science." Students are eligible for $250 grants in an academic semester ($200 during intersession) for research equipment and materials, plus additional funds as judged to be needed. In the summer, students may be selected for research jobs that pay stipends of $1,200 per month plus up to $400 for supplies. Participants may also earn up to six credits per year. Application forms for Hopkins engineering undergraduates are available from Carole Weiner at 120 New Engineering. She may be reached at 516-7395. Deadline for the fall semester has passed, but openings are available for the winter intersession and the spring '95 semester.
Go to Gazette Homepage