The overarching MRSEC goal in education, training, and outreach is to infuse materials science, engineering, and technology education with a new relevance, excitement and value to audiences ranging from G5-12 students, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, to the public sector. This goal will be achieved through an integrated education and outreach program that consists of five major thrusts:
- a coordinated, multidisciplinary Graduate Materials Science Education Program in Soft Matter that leverages the strengths of each institution;
- the establishment of a MRSEC Fellows Program;
- an innovative multi pronged Undergraduate Outreach Program that includes both a summer REU program and year-round research opportunities for students at all MRSEC institutions;
- outreach to G5-12 Students through partnership with The Science House, and The Engineering Place at NC-State University; and
- public education through a partnership with the NC Museum of Life and Science.
These efforts will be integrated across the MRSEC institutions and will include interactions with a number of domestic and foreign research and industrial partners through the MRSEC Global Research Network.
An important educational objective is to encourage, guide and educate students so that they realize their full potential as agile, lifelong, and creative learners and as future leaders in materials research. This is accomplished for the graduate students through a Research Triangle-wide, coordinated and synergistic materials science education program in soft matter that leverages the curricular strengths of each MRSEC institution. Furthermore, the MRSEC Fellows program will deliver integrated educational and leadership development opportunities to trainees at levels including undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral, and forge a cohesive MRSEC identity by building a strong sense of community. Fellows will gain valuable leadership and communication skills by routinely participating in outreach activities and the annual Triangle Soft Matter Workshop.
In addition to the summer REU program, undergraduate students will be active participants in research throughout the year and thus gain experience highly valued for admission to graduate programs. In the outreach program the MRSEC will partner with The Engineering Place at NC-State and The Science House to bring STEM concepts into G5-12 classrooms, and increase the diversity and enrollment of domestic students in STEM degree programs. The objective of the MRSEC program in public education is to provide informal educational opportunities about soft matter materials science to the broader public.
To ensure a diverse, and thus productive, environment for problem solving, innovation and outreach, MRSEC will implement a diversity strategy with clear goals, strategies and tactics, a hallmark of which will be intellectual and recruiting partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions as well as universities serving the disabled.