By Lori Lyn Lirio
MARIANAS High School Fil Am student Ian Rei Magno Cataluna was selected to participate in an engineering outreach program hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Out of 2,100 students who applied from across the U.S., only 100, including Cataluna, were accepted for MIT Online Science, Technology and Engineering Community or MOSTEC.
The program, according to Cataluna, started in June this year and will end January next year. He also said the six-month program started in summer where he took two courses – Science writing and Astrophysics.
“During the summer, for six weeks, we took two courses [online] and then we went to conference at MIT for one week to present our projects from what we researched from our courses,” Cataluna, who was born in Saipan to Filipino parents, said.
He said the other advantage of being in the program is that the MIT is helping them with the college application process.
During his stay at the MIT, Cataluna recounted they were able to meet with professionals.
“We had a college fair. We had people from Princeton, Harvard, Stanford – all of the staff of universities were talking and explaining to us the college process.”
Cataluna was supposed to go Bethesda, Maryland to present his research for Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons or STEP-UP project in August. He chose not to go to be able to participate in MOSTEC.
“Alongside the STEP UP program, I did the MOSTEC program. The program was more of college-oriented,” he said.
“The MOSTEC program is very competitive as there is only five percent acceptance rate in the program,” he added.
Cataluna said he was fortunate to be selected in the program because it expanded his knowledge in different areas.
“For a long time I always wanted to be a doctor, but then when I went to astrophysics class, I was also exposed to other areas of science that I was never able to learn before.”
As he learned astrophysics, Cataluna said he got more interested in astrology and other areas related to space.
“That’s another college career I am considering in taking. I am sure I wanted to enter into STEM field. The science writing course helps me how to write different journals and articles that we will be able to explain it to someone who doesn’t know what the topic is. Basically, we were able to express something that is so complicated but easier to understand by the people,” Cataluna said.