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  • Are you interested in Science? Technology? Engineering? Mathematics? (STEM)
  • Is your career choice to work for NASA?
  • Do you want to pursue a Ph.D in STEM?

       If your answer is "Yes" to any of the above, then you may be a candidate for NASA DIRECT-STEM.

Pre-Trainee Program                                                              Pre-Trainee Application Form

The Pre-Trainee Program is for students who are freshman, sophomore, community college students, or students who need to develop skills to apply for a research position and who have an interest in the STEM fields. All applicants are welcome as long as the student is enrolled in at least one course each semester. Students may qualify for a $600 annual stipend if enrollment and US citizenship status is verified.  

What is required to participate?

The Pre-Trainee program consists of ten Saturday workshops over the course of the academic year (i.e., both Fall and Spring semesters).  These intensive workshops will run from 9 am-1:45 pm each day and will focus on scientific computing and data analysis skills using the Python programming language.  [Note that no previous programming experience is required!]  **Attendance at the first three fall workshops (Sept. 14, Oct. 5, and Oct. 19, 2019) is mandatory to matriculate through the program.**  If you cannot make the Saturday workshops, then you will not be eligible to participate.  

The tentative workshop dates for the 2019-20 academic year are: 

  • Sept. 14, Oct. 5, Oct. 19, Nov. 2, and Nov. 16, 2019
  • Feb. 8, Feb. 22, Mar. 7, Mar. 21, and Mar. 28, 2020

The only other requirement for participation is a personal laptop computer running Windows, macOS, or Linux.  [Unfortunately Chromebooks are **not** able to run the requisite software.]

How do I apply?

Please fill out the application form and attach a PDF of your unofficial transcript here: Pre-Trainee Application Form.  If you are accepted into the program, you will be notified shortly before the start of the Fall semester.  The Fall 2019 due date is July 31st, 2019.

I still have questions!

Please e-mail Dr. Daphne Liu, Dr. Paul Nerenberg, and/or Dr. Jie Zhong with the subject "DIRECT-STEM Pre-Trainee Program" and they will respond to you ASAP.

Student Research Position                                                             

This position is meant to provide research experience to rising juniors/seniors, graduate students, and applicants to a graduate degree in a STEM field. As a student researcher you work directly with a DIRECT-STEM faculty mentor on a research project and participate in research-focused events with your cohort. Undergraduate student researchers are eligible for a scholarship up to $4000* per year. Students may also apply for a paid summer internship at JPL. Graduate students will be awarded a scholarship of up to $12,000 per year* and plus one paid internship at JPL.​  *Stipend amounts are based on how many hours a student is required to work on the research project and what research experience they have.

What is required of a student researcher?

  • Meet with your faculty mentor on a weekly basis and make progress on their research project.
  • Attendance at a mandatory weeklong intensive workshop at UC-Irvine held during August before the semester begins. On-campus accommodation is provided by UCI.
  • Attendance at multi-disciplinary seminars several times each semester. These seminars are typically an hour in length and give you the opportunity to learn expert’s research on a wide range of topics with a focus on Big Data Science application in STEM.
  • Participation in the Annual Student Symposium on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity at Cal State LA and the DIRECT-STEM Annual Research Symposium. Both are held in spring semester.
  • Potential to intern at JPL or UCI during summer semester, if the student meets GPA and research requirements before summer applications are due.

How do I apply?

  1. You must be an accepted Cal State LA undergraduate or graduate student. If you are a potential graduate student, you will need to provide proof of application from CSUMentor.
  2. Review the minimum requirements of the DIRECT-STEM faculty mentors listed below. 
  3. Faculty Mentors:
  • Dr. Jiang Guo: Students must have skills with Java or C#
  • Dr. Jingjing Li: Students must have experience with MATLAB, ENVI, or ArcGIS.
  • Dr. Sonya Lopez: MATLAB required, fluid mechanics or hydrology/hydrogeology
  • Dr. Paul NerenbergStudents should have completed introductory physics and chemistry coursework. Experience with Python preferred, but not required.
  • Dr. Mohammad Pourhomayoun: Must have experience with Python Programming, and knowledge of Machine Learning or Data Science
  • Dr. Susan Terebey: Have programming experience, interest in Astrophysics, GPA >3.3, & one yr. Physics
  • Dr. Hengchun Ye: Must have experience with one of the following: Fortran, IDL, MATLAB, Python, or R      
  1. If you meet their requirements, email the faculty mentor directly to see if they are accepting research students.
  2. Submit required application materials via email to the faculty mentor with the subject: Student Research Position Application.
  •  Student Researcher Application Form
  •  Statement of Interest
  •  CV or resume
  •  Unofficial Copy of Transcripts
  • Two Letters of Recommendation Letters—at least one from an academic advisor or professor. Letter may be sent directly to and faculty mentor via email from the recommender.

Note: The DIRECT-STEM Office will not contact faculty mentors on your behalf to see if they are interested in your application. You must contact the faculty to see if they have an opening. Please treat this process the same as you would applying for a job. If you do not meet the minimum requirements for a research position you may be considered for the pre-trainee cohort instead. 

While applications are taken year round, acceptance to DIRECT-STEM is on a first come first served basis until all positions are filled. Please note that positions are likely to be filled before the deadline so apply as soon as possible.

After the deadline, applicants may contact the faculty mentors to see if all positions have been filled in their research group. Fall 2019 priority deadline is July 31st, 2019.