Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Outreach programs lead Jessica George to pursue education in environmental engineering

Jessica George

Jessica George

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(Sept. 28, 2010)--At Ronald Reagan High School, Jessica George loaded up on liberal arts classes, hoping to pursue a career in either social work or law. She had two uncles with engineering degrees, "but I just never got the bug," she said.

In the spring of her sophomore year, however, she learned about the UTSA Summer Research Stipend Program. The competitive summer program allows students to work on active engineering research projects while getting paid. She applied to the program and was accepted.

For two months, George studied osteo imperfecta alongside mechanical engineering professor Xiaodu Wang in the UTSA Hard Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory. The genetic condition, better known as brittle bones, occurs mostly in children and is estimated to affect up to 50,000 people.

"That summer was an incredible experience," George recalled. "I was able to work with specimens and do other things that opened my eyes to the work of science and the scientific process."

Intrigued, George returned to the program and Wang's laboratory the following summer. During her second stint in the laboratory, she learned about computer modeling. She also gained an understanding of engineering's many facets.

"I learned that engineering isn't just about sitting there building things," said George. "It teaches you to think. You have to put your brain through a workout, and you have to look at things from a different perspective. If anything, that's what made me fall in love with it."

Ultimately, she applied to UTSA and was accepted. She loves engineering but is quick to admit the road to an engineering degree is arduous. To ensure her math skills were rock solid, she opted to take UTSA's "Just in Time Math" during her freshman year. The course is offered by the UTSA Center for Excellence in Engineering Education (CE3) to freshman engineering majors. It teaches mathematics principles and shows students how those principals apply to engineering problems.

George also took a part-time position in the Environmental Engineering Laboratory run by Professor Heather Shipley. Her research team is studying how nanoparticles can be used to remove metal pollutants from drinking water sources.

"Engineering is more than just math and science," said Shipley. "It takes well-rounded individuals like Jessica to solve our current problems. Students with a liberal arts background add a different perspective. Through engineering support programs like 'Just in Time Math,' students who initially did not think they could pursue STEM disciplines can become successful and well-rounded engineers."

George expects to graduate with her bachelor's degree in December 2013.

 

 

Did You Know?

Sometimes you have to see the little picture

UTSA researchers are exploring matter at the atomic level with Helenita. It's one of the most powerful microscopes in the world, with the ability to operate near the theoretical limit of resolution. At 9 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing more than two tons, Helenita can dissect almost anything. With Helenita's resolution, researchers can study particles atom by atom to see how they behave.

That's critical in developing nanotechnology that will help diagnosis early-stage breast cancer or make helmets that are uber strong. Moreover, the detail that Helenita provides will allow nanotechnology researchers to create new therapies and treatments to fight a wide range of human diseases.

Did you know? Helenita can magnify a sample 20 million times its size, which would make a strand of human hair the size of San Antonio.

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Events
July 30, 5 - 7 p.m.

Networking and happy hour with AIA San Antonio's Women in Architecture

Join AIA San Antonio’s Women in Architecture group for their networking and happy hour event, where all design professionals are welcome.
Liberty Bar, 1111 S. Alamo St.

Aug. 1, 9 p.m.

"Inside Peace" documentary screening

This documentary, presented by the San Antonio Film Festival, documents the experience of re-entry after incarceration. The film features Michael Gilbert, associate professor in the department of criminal justice and director of the Office of Community and Restorative Justice program at UTSA.
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle

Aug. 4, 6 - 8 p.m.

Free Teacher Tuesday: Los Tejanos Workshop

Discover resources and strategies for teaching Tejano history and culture and get a special educator's tour of the new long-term exhibit, Los Tejanos.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd.

Aug. 9, 12 - 5 p.m.

Vaquerocation 2015

This cowboy-themed programming, offered in conjunction with Our Kids Magazine's Kidcation Week, gives families the opportunity to visit with cowboy docents, enjoy readings and visit activity tables.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.

Aug. 22, 6 p.m.

UTSA Alumni Gala

The UTSA Alumni Association hosts this annual gala honoring the Alumna of the Year, Alumnus of the Year and the Alumnus of the Year Lifetime Achievement award winners.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr.


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