Summer internship turns science into full-time job for Newport News high school students

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Over the course of a two-week program beginning Sunday, students in the Biocomplexity Institute’s High-Performance Computing in the Medical Sciences program will engage in immersive learning activities led by a host of Virginia Tech science faculty members.

For 16 young men and women from the Achievable Dream Academy in Newport News, this internship could further their scientific research goals in the future.

“The diversity and depth of experiences our students are exposed to at Virginia Tech is something we just can’t re-create in a conventional classroom setting,” said Jonothan Lister, math department lead at Achievable Dream. “Our students get to follow ‘big ideas’ through different settings and points of view — an afternoon that begins with an introduction to engineering through full-size race cars can end exploring video games that simulate the construction of new roads.”
 The structure of this summer internship is designed to remove obstacles that discourage many first-generation college students from pursuing careers in scientific research.  This mission reflects a broader commitment to build diversity and cross-disciplinary collaboration into Virginia Tech’s learning communities. These values are emphasized in the university’s signature educational initiatives, such as InclusiveVT and the College Access Collaborative.
“Support from the National Science Foundation allows these students to make learning their full-time job for two weeks out of the summer,” said Kristy Collins, senior project associate for education and outreach at the Biocomplexity Institute.  “They’re fully embedded in a scientific community, experiencing research that touches the activities they love and the problems they want to solve.”
 Participants in the 2016 program will work with experts from a broad range of academic divisions and local nonprofits, including the Virginia Tech Carlion School of Medicine, College of Natural Resources and Environment, School of Architecture + Design, and Let’s Code Blacksburg.
At the end of these activities, students will have an opportunity to share what they’ve learned with the entire Virginia Tech community through a series of public presentations at the Biocomplexity Institute conference center on July 22 at 9 a.m.
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