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Agro-Industrial Research Experience for Community College Students (ARECCS) 2017-2020

In Tennessee, residents who meet eligibility requirements can attend community college to receive an A.S. at no cost via the Tennessee Promise program. The learning experience at the community college level, however, is different than that at a Carnegie R1 university, especially in the physical, natural, and applied sciences. This program will provide community college students with experiential learning opportunities at the University of Tennessee.

Bioenergy research is a robust platform on which to base such an opportunity due to its multidisciplinary nature. Students will participate in an ongoing active research program in labs across the Departments of Food Science, Entomology and Plant Pathology, Biosystems Engineering, and the Center for Renewable Carbon. Research training will be supported by training in responsible conduct of research, environmental health and safety, and lab safe operating procedures. Moreover, students will participate in experiential learning activities to enhance desirable soft skills. We will implement a comprehensive evaluation plan to fully measure effectiveness of the independent research activities and gains in soft skills using UT’s newly developed Quality Enhancement Plan for Experience Learning.

Expected outcomes include experiential learning opportunities as well as improved qualitative and quantitative understanding of undergraduate experiences among community college students. We expect ARECCS to lead to research and learning opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students, including minority, women, first-generation, and economically disadvantaged students. Moreover, the impact will be a framework for developing wider-reaching, self-sustaining programs that provide additional training and research opportunities for community college students in Tennessee and elsewhere in the US.

Stephen Chmely (PI), Kim Gwinn, Dr. Joseph Donaldson, and Carrie Stephens

Other organizations involved in the project:

  • Chattanooga State Community College
  • Cleveland State Community College
  • Columbia State Community College
  • Jackson State Community College
  • Motlow State Community College
  • Pellissippi State Community College
  • Southwest Tennessee Community College
  • Volunteer State Community College