On Wednesday, April 19, Winona State University will host a STEM Showcase Day for high school students and their families to tour the university’s STEM facilities. 

The event coincides with the annual Judith Ramaley Research Celebration, a day for Winona State undergraduate and graduate students to present research and creative achievements. 

During the STEM Showcase Day’s morning and afternoon sessions, groups of high school students and families will attend the Ramaley Celebration and a student panel. They’ll also receive in-depth tours of various STEM facilities on campus. 

“We want to open up prospective students and families to see some of the research that goes on [at Winona State],” explained Laura McCauley, an Advising Specialist in the College of Science and Engineering. 

At larger universities, students often don’t get the opportunity to use high-end equipment and machinery, McCauley said. Many times, that’s left to graduate level students or faculty.  

“Here… students get a tremendous amount of hands-on experience working machinery,” McCauley said.  

Winona State students Lindsey Arndt and Meg Kaufenberg-Lashua have seen numerous benefits from their own research experiences.

I got a taste of how to work in a team and make sure all the parts of a project will work together. I feel more confident in my ability to problem solve and ask for help when it is needed.
Lindsey Arndt

On-Campus Astrophysics Intern, Winona State University

Chemistry research assistant Kaufenberg-Lashua said the experience gave her the confidence to work and problem solve independently. 

“[Research experience] also helps you become more confident working in a lab,” Kaufenberg-Lashua added. “It is a great learning opportunity to do some independent work that you otherwise wouldn’t necessarily do in a classroom setting.” 

As a mid-sized university, WSU’s research equipment and opportunities are on par with other universities.  

We’re large enough that we have millions of dollars’ worth of high-end equipment, but small enough so that undergraduate students have lots of opportunities to work in many capacities that generally only graduate students would have the opportunity to do [at other universities].”
Laura McCauley

Advising Specialist, College of Science & Engineering, Winona State University

Being a mid-sized university also has the benefit of developing close relationships with faculty and advisors during undergraduate careers.  

“Because of the small [class sizes], the faculty and staff get to know you by name,” Arndt said. “Each student can get to know most of the other students in the major, which helps to make friends and create study groups for hard classes.” 

As a student advisor, McCauley can attest to how those relationships impact a student’s career. 

 “We push students to take risks outside of their comfort zone whenever possible. That’s why we’re number one in the Minnesota State System when it comes to helping students get jobs in their field,” McCauley added.  

When Arndt visited Winona State, she was a bit hesitant about the computer science department, she recalled. 

“But after being here for three years, I can say I would not want to be anywhere else,” Arndt said.  

For more information about the STEM Showcase Day, contact Laura McCauley at LMcCauley@winona.edu.