Guam NSF INCLUDES and EPSCoR welcomes 12 new student researchers

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Guam National Science Foundation-Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (Guam NSF EPSCoR) and Guam NSF SEAS Island Alliance INCLUDES programs at the University of Guam welcomed 12 new student researchers and their families at an orientation held at the UOG CLASS Lecture Hall at the start of the year.  

The student researchers will be participating in the 2024 Student Research Experience (SRE) program. This initiative aims to boost the quantity and diversity of students pursuing careers in STEM fields.  

The program is specifically designed for undergraduates who are seeking valuable research opportunities. Out of the 12 student researchers, five are supported by Guam NSF EPSCoR and seven by Guam NSF SEAS Island Alliance INCLUDES. 

The event was also organized to introduce    the new SREs to their faculty mentors who will be working with them in the coming year.  

Emily Wendte, education and workforce development program associate for Guam NSF EPSCoR-Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals and Oceans (GECCO) facilitated the family orientation event.  

Wendte emphasized the role of the family and mentors in the SRE program. “It’s important to us to involve the family members of our students as much as possible so that during the student’s year-long journey, family support groups are able to ask their student participants questions about how things are going in order to offer support.”  

“We want family support groups to understand the nature and requirements of the National Science Foundation grant, and that working along with it can ultimately lead to bigger and broader opportunities for the student”, added Wendte.  

The UOG CLASS Lecture Hall erupted with applause from families in attendance as students signed agreements officially entering themselves into the program. 

Wendte said that it is a binding agreement for students to fulfill the expectations and obligations outlined by the grant. This includes maintaining communication with peers and mentors, diligently performing research in labs, participating in fieldwork, and adhering to proper protocols and procedures. 

Among the mentors and students were alumni of the program, sharing advice and experiences with excited newcomers. 

Wendte recognized Brandon Respicio, a program alumnus at the orientation, recalling his journey through the program. Respicio participated in the Summer Math Research Experience (SMRE) and SRE in 2022 and 2023 respectively. 

Respicio’s list of accomplishments includes scholarship awards to attend the 2022 and 2023 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Diversity in STEM (NDiSTEM) conference. He also received recognition for his student poster presentation at the 2023 SACNAS NDiSTEM conference.  

Respicio is currently in his final semester at UOG as a secondary education student majoring in mathematics. He is a first-generation college student.   

Wendte says, “At completion of the program, he really wanted to share what he had accomplished that year with his family. His parents were beaming! They looked just as excited and proud as he did.” 

For Wendte, witnessing the growth of each student as they progressed through the program helps her to understand the significance of the work she continues to do. 

“At the end of the program, when we get to see the fulfillment, pride and joy these students have in what they accomplished—it’s really heartwarming. It’s one of those reminders of why we do what we do,” Wendte said. 

 

Discovering 3D printing at Hagåtña’s G3 Makerspace

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Leading the charge in showcasing the possibilities of 3D printing to the public is the Guam Green Growth (G3) Circular Economy Makerspace & Innovation Hub, located in Chamorro Village in Hagåtña. 

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, operates similarly to a conventional printer. Instead of using ink on paper, it builds an object by layering filament—material used in 3D printing—to recreate a 3D scanned object.  

Filament can range from materials such as plastics, clay, or even concrete, though the scope of substances used in printing will broaden as the industry continues to develop. 

Tim Udo, G3 Makerspace coordinator, who helps teach the introductory classes for 3D printing, explains how this new industry can contribute to a circular economy and a cleaner environment in many ways.  

Along with the creation of a machine that turns non-recyclable plastics like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into filament for 3D printers, the machines at G3 Makerspace can also print objects from polyether ether ketone (PEEK), which, after printing and annealing (heat treatment), has the same strength as steel.  

Additionally, G3 Makerspace has another 3D printer specifically for using clay as a filament, which Udo says can be used for building structures or tiles that can further regrow coral. 

At the G3 Makerspace 3D Printing Basics Workshop, classes are capped at three participants per class, allowing instructors ample one-on-one time with students.  

Although classes generally take place on Wednesday nights during the Chamorro Village night market festivities, Udo welcomes anyone wanting to take classes during the day to speak with him at the G3 Makerspace, and he will work with their schedule. 

Additionally, participants can look forward to Udo and other instructors teaching students about G-code, which is a widely used Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and 3D printing language used to communicate ideas to the 3D printing software.  

At the end of the class, students will get to print their keychains, whistles, or 3D-printed characters as keepsakes to take home. 

With the seemingly endless potential of the 3D printing industry, Udo, a mechanical engineer by trade, imparts some advice for any aspiring engineers regarding the limitations of additive manufacturing. 

“If you want to do any kind of engineering, carpentry, or any kind of fabricating work, what you need to have is creativity. As long as you have creativity and interest to learn, you can make anything. [The Makerspace] can help you along the way with technical knowledge and the software, but as long as your mind can think of it, you can create it.” 

As classes and activities expand at the G3 Makerspace & Innovation Hub, Tim Udo encourages the public to pay a visit to the shop at Chamorro Village. 

“I think it is valuable for people to know that we are open to the public. People can get memberships here either on a monthly or yearly basis and then they can come here and utilize all the machinery we have. You can come and take a class for the laser [engraver], learn how it works, and then start cranking out your own products. The same goes for the CNC and the 3D printer. Come here, and we will teach you how to make all of it.” 

Classes take place on Wednesdays during the Chamorro Village Night Market festivities. Participants who are 18 years old and older are welcome to sign up either in person or on the G3 Makerspace’s Instagram page. 

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