This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to intern at the Texas Research Alliance. The Texas Research Alliance (TRA) is an organization that facilitates collaboration between universities and industry through different programs and initiatives.
During my time as an intern, I learned a lot about how research universities are classified top-tier or tier one institutions. I was surprised to learn that none of the universities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were awarded the distinction of a tier one research institution by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The only ones in the state are UT Austin, Texas A&M, Rice University, Texas Tech, and the University of Houston. The reason universities want to earn that distinction is not only for bragging rights but also so that they can receive funding from the National Research University Fund (NRUF). My primary project for the summer was to gather data about the universities’ student body, faculty and financial strength. I would then compile progress reports for the institutions. I worked with the Offices of Institutional Research at SMU, TCU, UTD, UTA, and UTD (these schools were considered emerging research institutions by the THECB meaning they were close to tier one status but not quite there) to gather the data. Then, I would analyze the data by comparing it to that of other emerging research institutions or comparing them to the data of the Texas Tier 1 institutions listed earlier. It was a very rewarding process, and I learned a lot from it. I’ve learned about what makes a university strong in the eyes of sponsors, how to to work with different organizations while asking for sensitive information, and so much more!
Another amazing part of this internship was its alignment with the Dallas Regional Chamber Intern Program. Because the TRA is housed at the Dallas Regional Chamber offices, I was a part of the Chamber's office community. I got to work with the other Dallas Regional Chamber interns and participate in different activities and lunch outings with them. We learned about the different departments of the Chamber and how each of them impact the economic development of the Dallas region (which includes Dallas, Collin, and Denton counties) through "lunch-and-learn" programs. The coolest part about the internship was working together on a project that would eventually be presented to the entire DRC staff, including the CEO. Our project was about the lives of millennials who have recently moved to Dallas, and what a regular week would look like to them.
It was really neat to work with all of the fascinating people at the Texas Research Alliance and the Dallas Regional Chamber. I’d like to publicly thank TRA Executive Director, Dr. Geoffrey Orsak, for giving me the opportunity to serve as an intern for the Alliance and learn so much. I’d also like to thank DRC Director of Education, Elizabeth Caudill, for organizing the entire Dallas Regional Chamber Intern Program, and making it such a comfortable and supportive place to learn and work.
Now my summer has come to an end, which means so has my internship. I hope to continue learning and working hard on my next adventure as an Electrical Engineering and Public Policy student at SMU!