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Real Science, Real Jobs for Students


Real Science, Real Jobs and Real Pay Through UCR Program

Participants in the Copernicus Project experience first hand how to apply classroom knowledge in the workforce at science-based businesses thanks to a grant from Beckman Coulter.

(August 13, 2008)

Derrell Miranda from the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department explains maps to interns Belem E. Crean (center) and Ahn Hoang Pho (right).

Derrell Miranda from the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department explains maps to interns Belem E. Crean (center) and Ahn Hoang Pho (right).

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.ucr.edu) Community college students can clock in at a number of science-based businesses and put their classroom skills to the test as part of the UCR’s Copernicus Project Beckman Coulter Internship program. The program, named for the $50,000 annual grant from the Beckman Coulter Foundation, provides students a chance to work any combination of 40 hours and earn $20 an hour.

In its second year, the program has 18 interns participating and working for places such as the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department; Ambryx Biotechnology, Riverside; Western Center for Archaeology & Paleontology, Hemet; Flabob Airport, Riverside; Wathen Foundation, Riverside; Wathen Aviation High School, Riverside; Huntington Library and Gardens, San Marino; and Foothill Veterinary Hospital, Pasadena.

“The way the program works is simple; community college students get hands-on work experience in the field of their interest, apply their classroom skills to the real thing, and supply companies with some much needed help during the summer,” said Raymond Hurst, education & business liaison for the Copernicus Project, who was instrumental in arranging the gift from Beckman Coulter. “It’s another step that takes them closer to attending a four-year college to further their career goals.”

The Copernicus Project, which uses outreach programs to cultivate undergraduate students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers, partners with community colleges to achieve greater diversity in its participants. Community colleges and universities participating in the program include California State University, San Bernardino; California Baptist University; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Pasadena City College; Chaffey Community College; Santa Monica College; and Riverside Community College District.

Two RCC students, Ahn Hoang Pho, and Belem E. Crean, are completing their internship at the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department. Hoang Pho is a chemistry major and Crean is working toward a degree in civil engineering.

Crean, who graduated from Esperanza High School in Hemet, California, admits to having an interest in drafting at an early age.

“I began drafting at age 12 and trained for five years before coming to the United States from Mexico,” Crean said. “In just two more semesters I am hoping to transfer to a four-year college to major in civil engineering. I would also like to come back someday and teach.”

Hoang Pho arrived in the United States from Vietnam a year and a half ago. Not only did she have to adjust to a new environment but also a new education system.

“I learned a lot of new things that apply to previous knowledge,” she said of her experience as an intern.

After completing her internship, she will travel to Washington State where her mother just landed a job. However, she wants to apply next year to be a Beckman Coulter intern and later to apply at the University of California System.

Both students found the experience rewarding as did Bill Hemsley, principal engineer at the water department who supervised the interns.

“We have so much going on here,” Hemsley said.

The interns had the opportunity to work with large drawings, improvement plans, plan maps, a computer drafting program, and a system for closing out projects.

“It was a big benefit to us and very beneficial for them,” Hemsley said.

“We are deeply appreciative for the opportunities the Copernicus Project Beckman Coulter Internship program has provided to these talented young adults who bring reciprocal and tangible benefits to our business partners,” said Linda Scott-Hendrick, director of the Copernicus Project.

She added that the internships demonstrate the power of collaboration and forward thinking across the university and the private and public sectors in identifying, recruiting and cultivating future students and work force members for the Inland Empire interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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