Edwardsville, IL (PRWEB) May 08, 2013
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s School of Engineering has received a grant valued at nearly $830,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). “Graduate 10K+”, is a special funding mechanism within NSF’s STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP). The focus is on creative approaches to retaining undergraduates in engineering and computer science during the first two years of college.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. SIUE is one of nine institutions on the receiving end of $10 million in funding from the Graduate 10K+ program.
Dr. Cem Karacal, associate dean in the School of Engineering, is SIUE’s principal investigator. The awards were announced today at the Knight Conference Center in Washington, D.C. The effort is supported by major funding from Intel and the GE Foundation.
The SIUE project is titled “Student Teams Engaging Peers for Undergraduate Progress (STEP-UP)” and addresses pre-calculus and calculus I retention for engineering students. Karacal’s co-principal investigators include: Zenia Agustin and George Pelekanos, professors of mathematics and statistics; Ryan Fries, assistant professor of civil engineering; and Ryan W. Krauss, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering.
Karacal described the collaborative project between the School of Engineering and the Department of Mathematics as a holistic approach. “We expect to improve the retention rate of engineering students by using mathematics enrichment sessions, face-to-face and online tutoring, residence hall peer mentoring,” he said. “We also will implement mentoring from industry professionals along with freshmen involvement in engineering student clubs and design teams. Tracking and monitoring student progress for early intervention will play a significant role.”
“Through the techniques implemented during this project, engineering students will experience significant improvement in learning math,” said Hasan Sevim, dean of the School of Engineering. “In the long term, I expect the methodologies developed will be used in all SIUE mathematics courses, which will significantly increase retention and graduation rates not only in engineering, but also in other disciplines as well.”
The NSF is aware that as a new crop of graduates from U.S. colleges and universities enters the job market, the country is counting on a new wave of skilled workers to navigate a wide variety of complex issues. Challenges to national security, health and rehabilitation, energy security and reliability of critical infrastructure are among the most pressing.
Yet in the critical fields of engineering and computer science, industry leaders lament an inadequate supply of graduates with the knowledge and skills needed in business and industry. These also are fields in which women and minorities are generally underrepresented.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has partnered with Intel and GE to change the status quo through a targeted set of grants whose projects take creative approaches in engaging and retaining undergraduates in engineering and computer science. Both fields are dynamic, encompassing areas of focus that didn’t even exist two decades ago –from green energy and advanced robotics to cybersecurity. Engineering and computer science also offer good careers with salaries that can make a life-changing difference, especially to first-generation college students and their families.
Speakers at the event included:
The other eight awardees included:
The SIUE School of Engineering offers one of the most comprehensive and affordable engineering programs in the St. Louis region with eight undergraduate degrees, five master’s degrees and a cooperative doctoral program, all housed in a state-of-the-art facility. Students learn from expert faculty, perform cutting-edge research, and participate in intercollegiate design competitions. Companies in the metropolitan St. Louis area provide students challenging internships and co-op opportunities which often turn into permanent employment. All undergraduate programs are accredited by their respective accreditation agencies.