Partnership aims to boost minorities in engineering

SUNY Oswego has partnered with the National Action Council on Minorities in Engineering to award scholarships starting this fall to increase enrollment in engineering fields for students from underrepresented groups.

As part of multiple efforts to boost interest among talented minority students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, Oswego will team with NACME to provide up to 10 awards this fall at the level of Presidential Scholarships—$4,700 a year for up to four years—to students interested in engineering from high schools and academies that take part in NACME’s pilot STEM Integration Model.

Oswego is the only four-year SUNY institution taking part in a series of national pilots that, in the New York/New Jersey region, includes Cornell University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Syracuse University and at least five others.

Dan Griffin, interim director of admissions at SUNY Oswego, said the process for identifying candidates for the scholarships in the applicant pool would take place this spring.

“We are very hopeful that we are going to attract a pool of highly talented, creative and diverse applicants to the STEM fields as a result of our new affiliation with NACME,” Griffin said.

While NACME is known as the nation’s largest private source of scholarships for underrepresented minority men and women in engineering, the new NACME pilot program invites select high schools, colleges and universities, along with corporations, to form a network committed to increasing the number of minority engineers in each region of the country.

Career opportunities

NACME’s STEM Integration Model aims to build a continuum of minority interest in engineering fields starting in middle school and progressing through high school, college and graduate school to jobs in such partner companies as AT&T, Bristol-Myers Squibb, IBM and Merck.

Oswego Provost Lorrie Clemo pointed to Oswego’s growing infrastructure of opportunities for undergraduates in STEM fields, including scholarships, grants and offerings in software engineering and, starting this fall, in electrical and computer engineering inside the $118 million Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation.

“They’re very interested in placing students in engineering careers and in particular providing them with an international experience, which is often difficult to achieve in engineering curriculums,” Clemo said.

NACME President Irving Pressley MacPhail “was very interested in SUNY Oswego’s Global Laboratory as a program to give more NACME engineering students across the country international experiences, principally in the petrochemical industry,” she added. “We have a strong connection in Brazil, at a lab that works on petro-geological modeling.” A student in a summer Global Laboratory program worked in the lab, Clemo said.

President Deborah F. Stanley and MacPhail signed an agreement last summer to formalize the college’s participation in NACME’s STEM Integration Model.

Since then, admissions counselor Christie Smith has visited most of the seven high schools and academies in this region’s NACME pilot program: Albany High School, Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy, City Polytechnic High School, Construction Trades Engineering and Architecture High School, John E. Dwyer Technology Academy, Manhattan Bridges High School and Rochester STEM High School. The partnership includes at least four community colleges in the region as well.

“With the new science facility, the Possibility Scholarships, the new major in electrical and computer engineering and another in software engineering—it’s the perfect time to reach out to those schools,” Smith said. SUNY Oswego’s Possibility Scholarship program puts STEM programs within reach of socioeconomically challenged students.

Students in those high schools and academies take pre-engineering, math and other courses to position themselves for admission to college engineering programs. “For example,” Smith said in December, “I went to John E. Dwyer Technology Academy in New Jersey this past Friday. They actually have a person in-house through NACME. ... The curriculum is much different at these NACME (partner) schools. They are offering tracks to students as high school freshmen in math, engineering, sciences—so there’s a curriculum tied behind STEM.”

SUNY Oswego offers several other opportunities for high school students to engage with the college and its science faculty, from the Summer Science Immersion Program to the GENIUS Olympiad global environmental competition.

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(Posted: Jan 30, 2013)

Tags: technology, stem, sciences, science, mathematics, engineering, education pipeline