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Francisco Flores in a lab in YVC's Glenn Anthon Hall

Flores participates in research project at Stanford University

YVC student Francisco Flores is among 29 students from across the country participating in a selective research opportunity at Stanford University this summer. Flores will take part in the 8-week Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program from June 24 through August 19.

The SURF program is designed to give young scholars, like Flores, a real feel for what it means to conduct research at the graduate level. The program provides students with housing, a meal plan, funds for travel expenses and a stipend upon completion of the program.

Flores credits YVC’s STEM program with exposing him to undergraduate research and preparing him for this opportunity.

“The STEM project was the first activity that I participated in while at Yakima Valley College,” said Flores. “The project’s ultimate goal was to add science and interactivity to our local Yakima Valley Museum by improving a historic blacksmith exhibit.”

With the help of peers and faculty mentor, Suki Smaglik, Flores learned how to program and manipulate a microcontroller, Arduino, and learned how to collaborate and develop creative solutions. But the impact of this experience was much greater, instilling him with a passion for research.

“These are all skills that I will continue using while at Stanford and beyond,” said Flores. “My research [at Stanford] will be on urban navigation, which focuses on using satellite signals and 3D city models to assist autonomous cars or drones in navigating a city.”

3D mapping aided by Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) localization, like the work Flores will be doing this summer, provides state-of-the-art urban positioning by leveraging 3D building maps to account for reduced satellite visibility.

“This experience means that I will be a part of a community of thinkers and innovators who share the same interest as I do,” said Flores. “From this experience, I hope to develop and learn research skills that I can continue using at my next institution and in the aeronautics and astronautics field. I am grateful to the Stanford SURF Program and Cristy [Rasmussen] and Vanessa [Tucker] for presenting me with this incredible experience.”

In addition to their research on a particular project, SURF students will have the opportunity to participate in a robust graduate school preparation program including coding experience, excursions around the Bay Area, community-building activities, participation in a research poster symposium and a strong mentorship component.