International Students Experience Research, Campus Life and Southern California

Sept. 11, 2019 - Forty-six university students from China spent 10 weeks this summer at the Samueli School of Engineering conducting undergraduate research projects. The International Student Immersive Research Experience Program, called UCInspire, is designed for undergraduate students from other countries who are interested in attending graduate school in the United States, and especially interested in UC Irvine.

During the summer program, students work on specific research projects under the supervision of a faculty mentor, and then deliver a final presentation at a poster session to conclude their experience. They participate in a series of professional development seminars to get an international perspective on engineering. They also take part in weekend social and cultural activities to explore Southern California.

This year’s students came from 11 different universities in China and were the strongest yet academically, according to Lily Wu, director of academic innovation, programs.  “UCInspire provides a comprehensive experience for international students, offering them a chance to see what it would be like to do research and go to a public research university in Southern California. It’s also an opportunity for our faculty to preview potential Ph.D. students.”

Now in its seventh year, the UCInspire program has grown. This year, there were 30 projects, with 22 faculty involved. Zhongping Chen, professor of biomedical engineering, has participated every year since the program’s inception. This year he advised a student who, in his opinion, made good progress considering he had only 10 weeks. “The students are very impressive, independent and motivated,” said Chen, whose student worked to enhance the imaging process of optical coherence tomography angiography.

Lelin Zhong and Xiyue Yao, both seniors and hoping to attend graduate school, worked with biomedical engineering professor William Tang to design a microfluidic device-based treatment for retinal diseases. “We learned many things, made lots of friends and tried different foods,” said Yao, who hopes to pursue graduate studies in immunotherapy. She noted that In-N-Out’s  burger was her favorite American food.

Dean Gregory Washington stopped by the closing ceremony lunch and poster session to thank the students for participating in the program and wish them well on the next stage of their education. “We hope you all choose to go on to graduate school, and we hope you choose UCI!”

– Lori Brandt

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