Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Florence Atienza

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2021

Research Project: Engineering and Education: Making Hardware Labs Scalable and Accessible

Project Description: My research project is affiliated with the UW Electrical and Computer Engineering department’s Remote Hub Lab (RHLab) which was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The RHLab allows students to remotely interact with physical hardware located on campus, allowing them to complete engineering laboratory assignments online. In my research, I am leveraging my background in engineering and education to advance the scalability and accessibility of the RHLab for wider audiences and underrepresented communities.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

Throughout my research project, I have learned about how engineering laboratories can be more accessible for all learners and how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed student perceptions of equitable access. Moreover, I have learned about the advantages and disadvantages of remote labs and hardware in a post-pandemic context, seeking to advance the RHLab and the interdisciplinary field of engineering education.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

Be resourceful! Lean on your mentors and advisors, ask for feedback often, and pivot as necessary. Doing research is hardly ever a straight-line path; the blockers are a part of the process. Stick with it, and you may find these blockers often lead to more insight than you initially thought possible.