Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (REAP)
REAP changes the attitude of student participants towards science and mathematical careers. Many have only a general idea of what a career in these areas entails, and little or no contact with adults doing this work. REAP student participants are exposed to the real world of these careers and are able to see themselves as scientists and researchers. Chun Hung Wong, an apprentice from Polytechnic University writes:
"This experience has changed my feelings about a career choice by showing me that chemical experiments are so much fun and also that being a chemist must be fun."
Working Shoulder to Shoulder
In a typical setting, students spend little time applying their knowledge, performing experiments, participating in field trips or working in groups. REAP provides a much needed dimension to their education by allowing them opportunities to work "shoulder to shoulder" with researchers in university laboratories participating in original research, exploring interests and making informed educational and career decisions.
When asked "What did you like best about his experience?" Stephanie Brogdon from the University of Georgia writes:
"I enjoyed everything, but especially performing hands-on experiments while working in the lab instead of just reading about the procedures."
Nam Ngo from Portland State University writes:
"I learned many things from this project. I gave me a taste of the real working world. Most important, it allowed me to experience the scientific investigation of cold fusion, which will be helpful to me in the future. I have never had the opportunity to be involved in this environment before and I find it very rewarding."
The REAP experience allows students to find the answers to the questions they themselves pose about a topic. They develop their English language and presentation skills as they articulate the problems they have devised and through their efforts to solve them, they learn to learn on their own.
Throughout the summer, students mature both intellectually and emotionally, develop friendships and foster a good sense of collegiate life. Self discovery of personal strengths and weaknesses and the setting of educational and professional goals contribute to personal development. Dr. Rolando Quintana, Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Texas El Paso writes of his apprentices:
"The confidence they have gained is immeasurable, knowing that their future is a college education. They also have access to a college professor for mentoring and guidance through their high school years, and perhaps most importantly, college student mentors."
Many students contribute specifically to the ongoing research of the laboratory project. Dr. Robert Thompson's research (University of Minnesota) was focused on using silicified plant cells to identify the use of corn in prehistoric pottery. He developed a research technique which allowed identification to a sub specific level, in other varieties of corn. In order to publish this research he needed to have someone duplicate his results. His apprentice Alison Boutin did just that and more. He writes:
"Alison proved such a talented, driven, and reliable researcher that I was able to entrust that task to her, which allowed me to present this research at the Second International Congress of Phytolith Research in Aix-en-Provence, France. Remarkably, Alison was then able to take my research one step further, and present the results of her own work at the same conference."