Research that Reaches Out gives opportunities for students to share their ideas


Image: Provided by Judy Wilbanks / Photo by Jave Boyboy

Mercer students Brent Lunsford (top left) and Andrew Wilzman (bottom left) work on a catapult with professors Chamaree de Silva and Jeff Pullen. As a part of a Research that Reaches Out Summer Program, they designed, built, and delivered low-cost mobile labs for Central High School.

Kyle Mullins, Staff Writer

Research that Reaches Out is an organization that aids students with completing projects that help solve local, national, or global issues. The organization will be having their visionary student panel on Oct. 11 from 6-8 p.m.

The major theme for this year is economic freedom and what it means to students.

“Economic freedom is getting students to think about, ‘What does economic freedom mean to them?’” Jave Bjorkman, the market intern for QEP Research that Reaches Out, said. “It’s learning how to budget. It’s learning how to take care of their student loans when they get out and work.”

The objective of Research that Reaches Out is to connect students with the local, national, or global community and put their education to work in the real world. This organization is not one students sign up for, but can use its connections to complete their research projects.

“Research that Reaches Out is not a club. It’s not an organization you can join,” Bjorkman said. “It is an organization that helps students and empowers students to get them to do impactful things while they’re in college.”

Bjorkman said that as students at Mercer, the students are already a part of Research that Reaches Out and are able to contribute their ideas any time.

There are many projects that students are working on right now through the program.

Bridget Trogden, a Mercer University professor who has been directing Research that Reaches Out for three years, has been working with students in the honors program with projects on campus concerning recycling and sustainability.

Trogden said that during the Fall semester, they are looking at recycling and tailgating, as well as taking a measurement of waste and recycling through the academic buildings on campus.

There is also an engineering project called Go Baby Go that that aims to help young children with mobility issues who cannot afford wheelchairs. Their solution is to take “mobility units” off the shelves, like Barbie jeeps, and adapting them to young kids’ specific needs.

“Our students can operate on the national stage, on the global stage, and across all disciplines throughout the undergraduate curriculum,” Trogden said.

She also said that the best way to get connected with Research that Reaches Out is to get to know the faculty. She said that sometimes students have ideas that Research that Reaches Out can offer guidance with when their professors may not encourage them to complete them.

What the program wants is that by the time the students graduate with their bachelor’s degree, at least half of them have engaged and interacted in the community.

“We really want a large number of our Mercer students to have these kinds of experiences,” Trogden said.