Newswise — Twenty students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) participated in a summer program at Missouri S&T that is designed to encourage engineering students from underrepresented groups to pursue graduate studies.

This year, students in Missouri S&T’s Summer Engineering Research Academy (SERA) represent Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina; Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi; Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama; Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi; Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Georgia; and Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Now in its fourth year, the two-month program involves the students in a range of research projects, including testing bridge-girder strength, analyzing lunar plasma to allow humans to live on the moon, and studying plants’ role in cleaning pollutants from soil and water.

“The SERA program gives students an opportunity to understand the research and capabilities we have at Missouri S&T and what opportunities graduate school could provide for them,” says Dr. Phillip Mulligan, assistant teaching professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and SERA director. “They use the knowledge they gained from their current institutions and develop deeper understanding in their fields.”

Mulligan says the SERA program provides students not only with research experiences, but also with networking, team building, and personal and professional development. While they attend SERA, the students live in a residence hall on campus and meet for weekly workshops that provide additional opportunities for learning.

Twenty students participated in SERA this summer:

The SERA program allows Missouri S&T to further build bonds with participating HBCUs and collaborate with the schools to continue research when the students return to their home campuses.

About Missouri University of Science and Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,200 students. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System and located in Rolla, Missouri, Missouri S&T offers 101 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top 10 universities for return on investment, according to Business Insider. S&T also is home to the Kummer Institute, made possible by a $300 million gift from Fred and June Kummer. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit

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