A summer program run by Caltech that has introduced Pasadena Unified School District high school students to high-level scientific research for the past 13 years will soon be expanding across Southern California as it transitions into a partially online hybrid program, officials said.
The Summer Research Connection program at Caltech has brought high school students, as well as pre-college teachers, together with Caltech students and faculty to collaborate on research projects for six weeks, Caltech said in a written statement.
But thanks to a gift from the Masimo Foundation, and making use of lessons learned during the pandemic, students and teachers from throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties will now have a chance to participate, according to the institution.
“The new approach will more than double the number of participants from 30 to approximately 70 and from four to 14 teachers over the next three years, extending the program’s reach into underserved communities,” the statement said.
The expansion was made possible by a gift to Caltech’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach from the Masimo Foundation, of which the chairman, Joe Kiani, is also a Caltech trustee.
“Caltech has propelled the human race forward throughout its rich history. We have to make sure its work continues. But we also want to make sure its students, faculty, and even trustees come from all backgrounds that reflect our population,” Kiani said.
“The best way to do that is to make sure the future pool is filled with diversity, starting with some of the underserved communities in our own backyard,” he said.
Past projects conducted through the program have ranged from building lasers to analyzing nearby asteroids,“gaining an introduction not only to Caltech but also to a culture of high-level scientific research,” according to the statement.
Rather than spending six weeks on campus at Caltech during the summer, future participants will attend an orientation day, followed by five weeks of remote research, officials said. The program will conclude with a weeklong on-campus portion.
The expansion of the program falls in line with Caltech’s mission of diversity and inclusion, said Caltech Assistant Vice Provost and Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach Director Cassandra Horii.
“We greatly appreciate Mr. Kiani’s commitment to helping young people explore and develop their interests in STEM fields, particularly those from historically marginalized backgrounds who continue to have fewer opportunities to envision themselves as future scientists and engineers,” Horii said.
“The Masimo Foundation gift will enable high school students and teachers from the greater L.A. area to connect with Caltech student-researchers and faculty in meaningful and authentic ways, both during the summer and year-round,” she said.
More information on the Hybrid Summer Research Connection program is available online at breakthrough.caltech.edu/hybrid-summer-research-connection-joe-kiani-masimo/.