Incoming freshmen REFUGES (Refugees Exploring the Foundations of Undergraduate Education in Science) Bridge Program students became valued researchers in the Wind, Energy & Turbulence Lab directed by Mechanical Engineering assistant professor Marc Calaf. As part of the bridge program students were exposed to the various known and unknown possibilities that exist with wind energy and how their ideas can help the world move towards more sustainable and a more efficient use of energy.

Tino Nyawelo, assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy founded REFUGES to encourage underrepresented students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education at the university level. KSL was present to spotlight these bright young minds as they explored the many options before them at the University of Utah.

KSL Story/Video — SALT LAKE CITY — For Tino Nyawelo the journey from war-torn South Sudan to professor of physics at the University of Utah was long and difficult. But, his REFUGES — or Refugees Exploring the Foundations of Undergraduate Education in Science — program is helping a new generation find academic success.

“What really inspires me is just my own background,” Nyawelo said.

In fact, he sees a bit of himself in the kids he mentors and teaches. Most were forced out of their homelands by war, and many landed in refugee camps early in their childhood.

In Utah, “we started to see in our (refugee) community that some of our students are not doing so well in school,” he said.

With limited education in refugee camps, most kids struggle academically when they arrive in Utah.

Nicholas Nahas and his family came to Utah from Sierra Leone when he was 7 years old. The transition to school was difficult in some ways.

Full KSL story . . .