Apprenticeship programs ignite passion for Army research

September 07, 2016

By U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Army Research Office

DURHAM, N.C. (Sept. 7, 2016) -- The High School and Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Programs of science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs are cosponsored and funded by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Army Research Office, and executed at ARO.

The program specifically matches high school students with scientists and engineers at colleges and universities across the country supporting ARL's Extramural Basic Research Campaign. The Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, or URAP, does the same for undergraduate students.

Students receive an educational stipend and are allowed to work up to 300 hours.

Students contribute to the Army's research in the laboratory while learning research methods using advanced research equipment and becoming a part of an active research group.

At the end of the program, students prepare abstracts documenting the research they performed during the apprenticeship.

While the research fields may differ, the opportunities all provide hands-on experience and show students how STEM research benefits the armed services as well as our local communities and global collaborative research.

In fiscal 2016, ARO cosponsored 117 students at 45 different universities in 22 states, 17 of which are Historically Black Colleges or Universities or Minority-Serving Institutions.

Throughout the summer while students are conducting research in the laboratories, ARO conducts informal site visits at local universities to assess program efficacy and evaluate program performance.

The visits help ARO formulate recommendations to improve efficiency and effectiveness of both the HSAP and URAP programs, as well as allow students an opportunity to build their communication skills by presenting their research.

Since June, ARO HSAP/URAP Coordinator ReShockie Smith conducted six site visits, joined by Dr. Dawanne Poree, an ARO program manager, Michael Caccuitto, or Dr. Lisa Troyer on three of the visits.

The site visits gave students from Duke University, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina's Charlotte campus a chance to present their work.

"The reason this program is so exciting and rewarding to be a part of is that it provides high school and undergraduate students exposure to the world of scientific research," Poree said. "I know from personal experience that programs such as this can ignite a passion for research that is life-changing. I am a scientist today because I was afforded the opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate student so it is truly an honor to extend this same opportunity to the next generation."

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University URAP student Roderick Gray echoed those sentiments sayingg that "learning how research is actually done was rigorous and challenging."

"I had to rely on my colleagues, which brought me out of my comfort zone," Gray said. "I was inspired to continue my research at home to contribute a more significant role in the lab and hopefully publish papers as well in the future. This experience also taught me how I can apply my degree in the world, possibly within the U.S. Department of Defense, and to work with a purpose."

"I enjoyed every minute, from presenting to answering questions," said Duke HSAP student Casey Thompson. "It truly was a great opportunity and experience to show what our research is about and how we go about it."

To learn more about HSAP, URAP, or other K-12, undergraduate and graduate STEM programs sponsored by the U.S. Army, please visit the AEOP website at

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.


Last Update / Reviewed: September 7, 2016