Impact-L.A. | Spotlight

IMPACT LA puts tech trio in local schools as NSF Fellows

Program trains graduate students in research, teaching; leads teens to STEM fields

Ankur Bansal, Sean Caonguyen and Narek Zohrabyan at the computer.

Selected as Cal State L.A.’s first group of IMPACT LA Graduate Teaching Fellows, three graduate students are working with local school teachers to get teenagers interested and fascinated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The IMPACT LA Fellows—Ankur Bansal, Sean Caonguyen and Narek Zohrabyan—serve as visiting scientists and engineers at Hollenbeck Middle School and Roosevelt High School, bringing hands-on activities related to their research into the classroom. Bansal's research is in artificial intelligence; Caonguyen's is in bioinformatics; and Zohrabyan's is in image processing.

Each has been awarded a $30,000 stipend—along with $10,500 for fees, books and travel—to conduct research and develop classroom activities.

Narek Zohrabyan, Sean Caonguyen, Ankur Bansal, and Nancy Warter-Perez.

IMPACT—which stands for Improving Minority Partnerships and Access through Computer/Information Science/Engineering-related Teaching—is part of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education Program. It pairs college graduate students and local K-12 math or science teachers. Cal State L.A. received a five-year $3 million grant last spring from NSF to support the University’s IMPACT LA program.

According to Nancy Warter-Perez, IMPACT LA director and Cal State L.A. professor of electrical and computer engineering, “The integrative program aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority students to pursue college degrees and careers in STEM, and to strengthen the research and teaching skills of the graduate fellows.”

Interested in obtaining graduate research experience? Interested in making science fun and tangible for teens? Cal State L.A. is now accepting applications for the second group of IMPACT LA Fellows. The submission deadline is Friday, Feb. 27.

  • Headshot of Ankur Bansal“It’s a great honor to get accepted in NSF fellowship programs. When I heard about such a program starting in CSULA, I saw that as a great chance to improve my academic credentials. Personally, I look at teaching as a potential career that I want to get into. IMPACT LA provided an opportunity to experience that career before actually getting into it, that was one of the driving factors to get into this program.” -- Ankur Bansal (computer science major)
  • Headshot of Sean Caonguyen“I would encourage grad students to apply especially if they like working with youth because it is a wonderful experience and opportunity to see how multiple disciplines are applied to various careers. You learn so much more then a typical graduate student because you interact with numerous people outside of your area of research. I can comfortably say that I have seen and know more about the cutting-edge areas of research in robotics, electrical, civil and mechanical engineering, and space technology, even though I am a biochemistry major. You become a more well-rounded individual interacting with a number of disciplines, and you will not have to worry about your academic finances.” -- Sean Caonguyen (biochemistry major)
  • Headshot of Narek Zohrabyan“I was fortunate enough in high school to have someone to turn to for applying to the engineering school here at CSULA. It was through the CSULA ambassador program that an electrical engineering student aided me with the process. By joining IMPACT LA, I thought I could be a guide, advisor, council and a role model for the next generation of engineers, mathematicians, scientists and physicists. For my part I am giving back to the immediate community which CSULA serves. Influencing middle- and high-school students to look beyond their immediate reach and covet higher education as a means of succeeding in life has been an invaluable experience.” -- Narek Zohrabyan (electrical engineering major)

Find out more about IMPACT LA at the following links:

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