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Texas A&M-Kingsville awarded nearly $2.4 million from NSF to promote STEM diversity

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KINGSVILLE (July 24, 2019) — Texas A&M University-Kingsville has been awarded nearly $2.4 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation to support underrepresented minority students in the university’s historic engineering program.


The Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering will receive the $2,392,470 over five years. Dr. Mohammad Alam, dean of the college is the principal investigator. It is the largest grant to promote diversity in STEM that the university has received in nearly a decade.


The grant will fund the Pathways of Excellence to Promote Seamless Transitions in the Engineering Major (PEP-STEM) program. According to Alam, the program will provide critical support for students who will strengthen the diversity of the STEM workforce in the future.


This project will create a model in engineering education that integrates mentoring, academic coaching, summer research experiences and outside classroom opportunities to improve learning, retention and preparation of engineering students from diverse cultural backgrounds.


It seeks to address the underrepresentation of Hispanics in the engineering workforce by developing the engineering curricula and co-curricular activities to better equip students as they proceed through critical transitions in the engineering major.


Nearly half of the College of Engineering’s 2,444 students are Hispanic.


“Among the minorities, Hispanics make up 18.2 percent of the U.S. population and that percentage has grown by nearly 50 percent during 2000-2012. However, they make up only 7 percent of the STEM workforce,” Alam said. “By 2050, almost half of the U.S. population will be non-white. About 66.7 percent of Hispanics over 25 years of age have a high school degree or more. These percentages drop significantly as one progresses toward higher levels of education, which is quite alarming and challenging, especially when striving to achieve diversity in the STEM workforce.”


Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s legacy as the oldest institution of higher learning in South Texas positions the university to play a critical role in retaining and graduating STEM majors.


“The retention and graduation rates of STEM majors are national challenges that this initiative at Texas A&M-Kingsville will address," Alam said. “Nearly half of our students are first-generation college students, 67 percent are of Hispanic descent, and 72 percent are underrepresented minorities. In addition, we create successful pathways for community college transfer students with a 70 percent graduation rate.”


The program will also assist transfer students.


“Community college transfer students, many who are first-generation, come from diverse backgrounds and have different levels of preparedness for college. Often, they face their own set of unique challenges based on an array of things, including life experiences. This project aims to help these students to overcome such challenges,” he said.


“In the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering, we are committed to providing all students with every opportunity to be successful,” Alam said.


Co-principal investigators for the project are Dr. Mahesh Hosur, associate dean for graduate affairs and research; Dr. Hua Li, associate professor in mechanical and industrial engineering; Dr. Matthew Alexander, associate professor in chemical and natural gas engineering; and Dr. Afzel Noore, associate dean for undergraduate affairs.



Category: Engineering , Awards/Honors , General Univ

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