The Symposium offered an inspirational day with 34 independent student research projects engaging 43 student researchers from 12 of our member colleges and the return to a live event at the Liberty Science Center on March 28 for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. Amidst the wonder and discovery found within the Liberty Science Center exhibits, students shared the results of months of research in college libraries and labs. The diversity of topics and issues the student research proposes to address confirmed for all the tradition of innovation in New Jersey continues to thrive on independent college campuses.
Introduced as a resource to reinforce the STEM talent pipeline by encouraging persistence in STEM majors through to degree completion – evidence shows that undergraduate students engaged in hands-on research on a topic of student choice dramatically increases persistence in STEM by 121 percent – the impact of the Symposium has extended beyond meeting this goal. While proven to be an effective resource for connecting textbook knowledge to real world applications and developing essential lab skills, Symposium participation also promotes student utilization of effective communication skills that career and advanced education interviews demand.
Students start the day anxious about making a series of presentations to individual judges over the course of a few hours. The judges are drawn from some of New Jersey’s most notable companies, faculty members who have been sponsors of student research, and board members knowledgeable in interviewing and hiring practices. Students are judged on the nature of their research, the use of scientific methods, the application of findings in the larger world, and their ability to relate the information in a concise, comprehendible, and accurate manner using a poster as their only reference tool. By the end of the day, students repeatedly shared how they have gained confidence in relating their research and acknowledged a new-found ability to promote themselves. An experience realized through no other program.
A supportive environment is created for students during the Symposium by having their research sponsors and mentors available to provide encouragement. This year saw a rise in the family and friends who were in attendance to see first-hand how the independent educational opportunities chosen by these students are yielding tremendous value in knowledge and readiness for a career in a STEM field. With each subsequent presentation came an increased ease in speaking allowing the enthusiasm, talent and dedication of the students to become more evident.
Steve Reynolds, President, ICUNJ, shared his impressions, “This day has made me so proud to represent our independent universities and the brilliant, diverse and passionate students who are have chosen to pursue degrees on their campuses. Anyone who might question the value of getting a college degree would no longer dispute its worth after witnessing the students and the reactions from their beaming parents at the Symposium. It is a proud moment for all that I will not forget.”
ICUNJ celebrates that New Jersey consistently ranks as one of the top states in education. Opportunities for students to receive a quality college education can be found right here where the necessary components come together – strong academic options, variety in campus settings, diverse student populations, career opportunities with some of the world’s most noted employers, and a commitment to student success. The Symposium saw engagement of professionals from BD. Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson, Johnson Controls, Mdema, Novartis, Pfizer, ARDEC Picatinny Arsenal, PSE&G and Siemens. A demonstration of the corporate partners who are invested in our students and further their career goals.
I C U New Jersey students and your dedication to STEM research that will one day change lives;
I C U New Jersey faculty advisors and the dedication and passion you demonstrate for the success of your students every day; and
I C U New Jersey corporate supporters and am grateful for the partnerships that support our students through the Symposium, scholarships and special programs that promote career readiness, options and development.
Special thanks to PSEG Foundation, Program Benefactor, and BD, Research Supporter, for providing the funding to make the Symposium possible.