This October is Month of Discovery at the University of Connecticut, allowing students to discover what UConn has to offer in the fields of enrichment, research, innovation and creativity.
A variety of UConn programs, including Innovation Zone, First Year Programs, Enrichment Programs at the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Werth Institute are hosting events to highlight research and innovation around campus and connect undergraduates to learn about opportunities they could participate in.
Micah Heumann, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, spoke about the Month of Discovery as a way for students to interact and engage with UConn through enrichment, research, innovation and informative experiences.
“Students choose UConn most often because of the opportunities offered, but find it challenging to engage with these opportunities. Month of Discovery brings the opportunities to the students,” Heumann said.
There are four events occurring each week of October. The Fall Frontiers Exhibition, which is a showcase for undergraduate student research, is occurring today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Wilbur Cross North Reading Room on the Storrs campus.
Heumann said Fall Frontiers is an opportunity for undergraduate students to showcase the research they have been developing and encourages students not engaged in research to learn from and interact with their peers who have engaged in research.
Caroline McGuire, executive director of enrichment programs said 90 students will present 75 research and creative projects during Fall Frontiers. More information about Fall Frontiers can be found on UConn’s undergraduate research website.
The first two events of Month of Discovery were the Makerspace Bounce which took place on Oct. 5, and Research Connections on Oct. 12.
The first event, Makerspace Bounce, was a scavenger hunt that took place between UConn’s four makerspaces: OPIM Innovate, Innovation Zone, The UConn Library Maker Studio and the Krenicki Arts and Engineering Institute.
The Makerspace Bounce kicked off the Discovery Quest challenge that is happening throughout the month. Students can register for the challenge and earn points by attending events. The top participants will be entered to win scholarship prizes. More information about the quest and how to register can be found on their website.
The second event, Research Connections allowed students to interact with researchers and discover the different facets of research happening at the university.
“[Students were] learning about what research looks like across a variety of fields, many of which they may not have encountered before like quantum cryptography, community oral history, musicology or precision health,” McGuire said.
Additionally, McGuire explained how the event was a great opportunity for students to build awareness about resources at UConn that can support their future involvement in undergraduate research. McGuire said the Research Connections event was a success, as 250 students attended, and a third of them were first-year students who started at UConn this fall.
“This event is all about demystifying research and bringing students into conversations with researchers,” McGuire said.
McGuire spoke about how each year researchers also benefit from the event, by creating connections with students. She gave an example, about how Dan Schwartz, Associate Professor in Physiology and Neurobiology, met Danielle Caefer, of the class of 2019, at the very first Research Connections event in 2015. She got involved in his lab as an undergraduate and ended up continuing there as a graduate student, earning her Ph.D. this past summer.
“Researchers appreciate the opportunity to meet engaged students looking to learn through research! Professor Schwartz and many others come back year after year because of the connections they make with students,” McGuire said.
She emphasized how that was just one of the many ways Research Connections and UConn’s Month of Discovery can create research opportunities for students in the future.
The last event of the month is Experience Innovation Expo which will occur on Monday, Oct. 23 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.
Aaron Rosman, the operations manager for Werth Institute, said the expo is a great opportunity for students to discover what UConn has to offer involving creativity and innovation, regardless of their experience.
“Attendees will meet fellow students who have been involved with programs, resources, and activities that can shape their experience at UConn and beyond,” Rosman said.
Rosman emphasized how students engaging with other students in a peer-to-peer environment makes the expo fun and unique.
“I highly encourage anyone to stop by the Experience Innovation Expo and I guarantee you’ll walk out thinking that ‘I see possibilities for myself that I hadn’t realized before,’” Rosman said.
There will be a variety of programs including OPIM Innovate, Innovation Zone, NursEng Innovation Center, HackUConn and more. A full list of programs and more information about the expo can be found on the Werth Institute website.
According to the Month of Discovery webpage, the first 100 students to attend each event will receive a Month of Discovery t-shirt.
Any questions about the Month of Discovery can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.