Ralph Rivera

Ralph Rivera
Mentor: Dr. Christina Gardner-McCune
College of Engineering
"I have been involved with STEM outreach since high school. I got involved in research so that way I could learn how to support engineering education in the K-12 system while staying involved with all of the robotics programs I have been apart of. Conducting research into engineering education has proven to be the best way to use my skills as an engineer, and give back our educational system."


Mechanical Engineering



Research Interests

  • Service Learning
  • College Engineering Retention
  • Engineering Self-Efficacy

Academic Awards

  • Nina Haven Scholar 2012
  • Sylvia T. McKenney Scholarship 2014
  • Anderson Scholar 2014
  • University Scholars Program 2016


  • Building Others Through STEM
  • American Society of Engineering Education


  • FRC #4118, Roaring Riptide Robotics, Mentor
  • Alachua County VEX robotics classroom volunteer
  • FRC #180, SPAM Robotics, Camp in a Box volunteer

Hobbies and Interests

  • FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)
  • VEX robotics
  • Improv
  • Swing Dancing

Research Description

Impact of the Alachua County Vex Robotics Initiative on K-12 Students, Teachers, and UF Student Mentors
This project aims to quantify the merits of a service-learning approach in engineering education. Service-learning classes teach concepts to students, and the students apply the knowledge in a volunteering setting. Volunteers will be given lessons to not only raise their technical skills, but to be a better aide in the newly implemented robotics courses in Alachua county. We hope to show the validity of creating a service-learning course at UF specifically to recruit volunteers for the classes. We think such a course would have positive impacts on students from the colleges of education and engineering, as well as the growing competitive robotics scene in Gainesville.