Thirty-two Howard University undergraduate students from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields will travel to eight countries this summer to conduct research projects as participants in National Science Foundation-funded Global Education, Awareness and Research Undergraduate Program (GEAR-UP).

The program aims to increase global engagement of graduates in engineering and other sciences through study and research abroad. It is spearheaded by the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences (CEACS) and supported through to a multi-year $5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. This year, students will conduct research in Romania, Turkey, Mexico, Chile, Ethiopia, Thailand, South Africa and Tanzania.

“National statistics suggest that very few African Americans have the opportunity to travel abroad to study or do research,” said Lorraine Fleming, Ph.D., the GEAR-UP director and a professor of civil engineering. “Our mission at Howard is to produce leaders for America and the global community. GEAR-UP is doing just that by allowing students a first-hand opportunity to practice as engineers and scientists in a global setting.”

In Romania, Howard student researchers will study sheet-metal forming technologies, cyber security and cloud computing. In Turkey, they will investigate the impact of earthquakes on building foundations and low-cost ways to reinforce concrete.

GEAR-UP students will also study earthquake engineering in Mexico. Other research projects for Howard students in Mexico will focus on saltwater and wastewater contamination of aquifers and earthquake engineering. Student researchers in Chile will study cyber security. In Ethiopia, researchers will investigate ways to use kitchen waste to produce biogas and the engineering properties of soils. In Thailand, they will study potential gene-based treatments to counter human hair loss.

The participating international universities are: Lucian Blaga University, Sibiu, Romania; Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey; Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado de Puebla, Puebla, Mexico; Universidad Finis Terrae, Santiago, Chile; Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia; the University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa; and Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.