African research engagement program expands, resumes in-person format

Founded in 2019, the African Undergraduate Research Adventure Program is growing to impact the lives of more young engineers.
AURA cohort

The African Undergraduate Research Adventure Program (AURA) is a research exchange program for undergraduate students from Africa. Selected students come to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for 12 weeks during the summer to engage in an immersive research experience with a College of Engineering faculty member.

Founded by Vice Provost for Engaged Learning and Thurnau Professor Valeria Bertacco and S. Jack Hu Professor of Engineering Todd Austin, the AURA program launched in 2019 in collaboration with the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAiT) in Ethiopia. 

With each year since its founding, the program has seen growing interest amongst AAiT students, and in 2022 the program has received a whopping 193 applications. 

In addition, the AURA program is now expanding its impact by engaging with institutions in other African countries. In the Summer of 2022, AURA  will for the first time welcome students from the University of Rwanda as well. 

An info session for students at the University of Rwanda, held on Feb. 4, 2022, had over 70 enthusiastic participants eager to learn more about this unique research exchange program.

“We are excited to see the AURA program grow, and to develop the opportunity to mentor so many students for such positive impact,” said on Prof. Bertacco. 

Because of the pandemic, AURA 2021 was held virtually. This year, she says, “the program will resume its in-person, residential format, and we are pleased that the students will be coming to campus once again!”

Most AURA students go on to graduate school, with former AURA students now pursuing graduate studies at U-M, AAiT, University of California-Berkeley, University of Colorado-Boulder, Northwestern, Notre Dame, and University of Delaware. The program is administered by Austin, Bertacco, and Assistant Professor at the AAiT School of Electrical and Computer Engineering Fitsum Andargie. AURA is sponsored by the College of Engineering, Google, Intel, and ARM.