STEM CONNECT: Research in computer engineering drives transfer student

Brandon Ramos. Photo credit: Craig Chandler, University Communication
Brandon Ramos. Photo credit: Craig Chandler, University Communication

by Tori Pedersen | Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education

Brandon Ramos found his first enjoyment of engineering while working with his grandfather, learning about tools and mechanics and building with his hands.

Ramos has always admired his grandpa, who was an engineer himself and a very hands-on learner. He instilled this same drive in Ramos, now a computer engineering major and mathematics minor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

“He insisted on getting out there and figuring it out on your own,” Ramos said.

After transferring to UNL from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the senior will now have a group of peers in the STEM CONNECT Scholarship program who also share this drive and an interest in the STEM subjects.

The STEM CONNECT grant, funded by the National Science Foundation, gives students who choose a STEM major the chance to work closely with faculty and peer mentors and join a community of fellow undergraduate students. Ramos is part of the second cohort of Scholars who joined in Fall 2020. Besides the 27 students at Nebraska, 12 students at Southeast Community College and nine at Western Nebraska Community College have been awarded STEM CONNECT scholarships.

The Scottsbluff, Nebraska, native also saw the impact his grandpa’s work made on others.

“What he could do to for his community and what he could do with just some tools and knowledge inspired me to pursue a career in the engineering field,” Ramos said.

His freshman year at UNK, Ramos worked tirelessly to earn a high grade in his lab course with Professor Said Abushamleh. Abushamleh noticed his commitment and effort and offered him the opportunity to be a part of the Summer Student Research Program (SSRP), where he would mentor Ramos in conducting original research.

Through his participation in the SSRP, Ramos conducted research on electromagnetic interference of digital and analog circuits, where he was able to develop antennae models to reduce this interference and improve communication.

At UNK, Ramos served as an RA, and he used this opportunity to help convince his residents that they were capable of achieving success in a STEM field, even when it seemed difficult. One student in particular came to Ramos wanting to drop her Calculus 3 course, but he was able to motivate her to give both the class and herself a chance, and because of his mentoring, she finished the course.

“I feel like most people who drop out or switch to another major can succeed in STEM, but need a mentor,” Ramos said.

After his first two years at UNK, Ramos transferred to UNL as a part of the 2+2 program, where the first two years of undergraduate study are spent at UNK and the final two are at UNL. Upon transferring to UNL, Ramos applied for the STEM CONNECT program to further his opportunities to pursue a career in computer engineering.

He hopes to work someday with high-end technology at Raytheon or Intel to break boundaries and further advance technological capabilities.

About the author: This feature on Brandon Ramos was written by Tori Pedersen, a UNL junior majoring in agricultural education and leadership. She is working in the CSMCE as the communications associate.

Read more about the STEM CONNECT Scholars