Bourns Hall

Engineering faculty join center to improve STEM pipeline for underrepresented students

Jia Chen and Vagelis Papalexakis collaborate with UT Rio Grande Valley on project

October 22, 2021
Author: Holly Ober
October 22, 2021

UC Riverside’s Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering is participating in a project with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, or UTRGV, to recruit and retain more underrepresented minority students in the STEM disciplines. The project, operated by the new Center for Multidisciplinary Research Excellence in Cyber-Physical Infrastructure Systems at UTRGV, has received $5 million for five years from the National Science Foundation. 

The center provides undergraduate STEM students with cutting-edge cyber-physical infrastructure systems research experience and develops a STEM pathway from high school through graduate programs.

UC Riverside will receive $495,000 to lead the research and development of artificial intelligence, or AI, techniques that support the project. Jia Chen, an assistant teaching professor of electrical and computer engineering and Vagelis Papalexakis, an associate professor of computer science and engineering, will be co-leading the AI subproject for the center. They will conduct research on AI and data science methods for big data management and decision making in the design and operation of unmanned aerial vehicles and cyber-physical infrastructure.

UC Riverside will also host UTRGV undergraduate students for summer research experiences, co-mentored by Chen, Papalexakis, and graduate students working in the project. The undergraduate projects will be designed in coordination and collaboration with UTRGV partners, who will train the undergraduate students before their summer research experience at UCR.


In addition to UC Riverside, The University of Illinois at Chicago and at Urbana-Champaign are also participating on the project.