Three Students Participate in UC Riverside’s MacREU Program

bradley Erwin

Riverside City College had three students complete UC Riverside’s 10-week Materials Connection Research Experience for Undergraduate Students (MacReu) Program. The program provides students with an opportunity to work alongside faculty, graduate students, postdocs and other undergraduate students in research labs at UC Riv


For Zurisadai Mata, Alexis Vazquez and Bradley Scott Erwin it was to “try out” what graduate student life is like.

I have decided to pursue my Ph.D. in Material Science and Engineering because of the overlap it has with Aerospace Engineering, said Mata, 25, who plans on attending Cal Poly Pomona in order to study Aerospace Engineering. Graduate school always seemed appealing, but I was undecided on what area to pursue . . . I didn't have much insight on how grad school works, what my job would look like after grad school, and I did not know the graduate student got paid to do their research. 

However, after attaining answers to my questions through MacREU my intention is to attend graduate school. This program gave me the opportunity and the resources to decide on my area of study in grad school.

Besides working, discovering and inventing in labs, MacREU participants receive GRE training, guidance in professional development and information on the foundations of science and engineering conduct including literature research skills and ethics. The program offers students, from two- and four-year colleges, to gain first-hand experience in research. Program’s primary target are students from Southern California who completed at least the equivalent of one year of full-time undergraduate studies pertinent to any physical sciences or engineering discipli


MacREU R'side is funded by the National Science Foundation, which supports this project in an effort to recruit more individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds toward a pathway that ultimately leads in the direction of graduate studies in science or engineering.

“The experience of MacREU was amazing,” said Erwin, 26, who graduated from Woodcrest Christian High School and plans on studying Mechanical Engineering at UC Riverside. “Working in the lab and conducting research was a rewarding experience and I gained a lot of knowledge. My faculty mentor invited me to continue work in his lab, so I will continue to do research during the school year.

“It was nice to be surrounded by individuals who were driven towards pursuing a higher education. I met so many wonderful people who I will keep in contact with throughout my life, both from the MacREU program and from other people working in the lab. We had a lot of fun times together, both in and out of the MacREU program. The program was hard work, but it was very rewarding in experience.”

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the program’s goal is to increase minority integration in STEM by providing paid research opportunities in materials science and engineering for undergraduate students.​