Real-world work experience offered

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ALANE HILLAM | Scroll Illustration
ALANE HILLAM | Scroll Illustration
ALANE HILLAM | Scroll Illustration

The Southeast Idaho Research Institute (SIRI) and Eastern Idaho Entrepreneurial Center (E-Center) give students more opportunities for faculty-mentored student research said Glenn Embree, founding Board Member of SIRI.

“They are two separate nonprofit entities working together, both affiliated with BYU-Idaho, to help build the economy in Southeast Idaho and the local community,” said Matt Kolar, a senior studying communication. “They provide students an opportunity to gain real-life experience.”

Dan Moore, a Geology Department professor and research director at SIRI, said SIRI was created in 2010 and the E-Center was created in 2006. Both were created to benefit students. E-Center focuses on business, while SIRI focuses on all other disciplines.

“Some methods of learning aren’t particularly effective, like attending a lecture, while others, like hands-on experience, are very effective,” Moore said. “SIRI and the E-Center provide that hands-on experience.”

Kolar said that at the E-Center, students focus on business consulting for organizations. At SIRI, students do research, analytical work and product testing for nonprofit organizations, businesses and government entities. All of this is done under a faculty mentor.

Moore said students can benefit from working at either place because it shows employers and graduate school advisors that an individual can do professional work, it provides a networking opportunity for students, and it gives students the opportunity to get paid while practicing their craft.

“We have seen students who have worked on a project for a company be hired by that company,” Moore said. “We’ve seen students apply to graduate programs that would not have been accepted if it weren’t for the work they did at SIRI or the E-Center.”

Kolar said that what he learned from his experience at the E-Center has led him to take classes more seriously and apply what he learns in each class to a real-world setting, which gives it more meaning.

“Faculty are now encouraged and provided with sport to participate with the E-Center and SIRI,” Moore said. “This provides faculty with one way to practice their craft, rather than just teach it.”

Moore said that since the creation of the College of Faculty Development and Mentored Research earlier this semester, the opportunities for professors to benefit from faculty-mentored undergraduate research have increased.

“This new college cuts across all other colleges, so in one sense it contains all the faculty on campus,” Moore said. “It will allow faculty to focus on their development as professionals and will facilitate faculty efforts to mentor students in practicing their craft.”

Moore said that he is enjoying being able to get to know faculty members from all disciplines and looks forward to helping open doors so faculty can develop themselves professionally.

“The first year with SIRI we served very few students, the second year we had about 70 students, and this year we have had around 140 students,” Moore said. “The E-Center serves hundreds of students a year.”

Moore said that the E-Center and SIRI are growing rapidly and that within a few years, these organizations will provide thousands of students with real-life experiences in their discipline, some of which will include  pay.

An information session and interviews with SIRI will be held for students Dec. 12 from 2-3 p.m., in MC 369.

More information can be found at www.sirinstitute.org and www.idahoecenter.org

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