PASADENA, Texas – San Jacinto College has been awarded a $1,477,907 federal grant to encourage more students to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. The funding comes through the National Science Foundation (NSF), which supports research, innovation, and discovery to provide the foundation for economic growth in America.
“Our world’s increasing reliance on technology and data means strong STEM-focused minds will continue to be in high demand, and we should give students in these fields every advantage to succeed,” said Sen. John Cornyn. “I applaud area leaders for their work to obtain this grant, and I’m grateful to the Trump Administration for supporting the students of the San Jacinto College District.”
In concert with Houston Community College (HCC), the goal is to increase the number of San Jacinto College and HCC STEM students who successfully transfer to four-year institutions. The program will be focused on three main areas: recruitment, retention, and transfer.
“This grant will allow us to better identify, highlight, and demonstrate successful methods to eliminate barriers to STEM student success,” said Dr. Laurel Williamson, San Jacinto College deputy chancellor and college president and principal investigator on the grant. “We have a robust STEM program here at San Jacinto College, including an engaged and active STEM Council, so we will enhance what we are already doing in STEM and will identify new opportunities that will open doors for students interested in these high-demand and lucrative fields.”
According to a WalletHub.com market study, Houston is one of the top 35 cities nationwide for STEM jobs. To determine the best markets for STEM professionals, WalletHub compared the 100 largest metro areas across 20 key metrics. The data set ranges from per-capita job openings for STEM graduates to annual median wage growth for STEM jobs to projected demand for STEM workers by 2020.
As part of this NSF grant, faculty from the two community colleges will design special STEM outreach events targeted at middle and high school students that could include workshops on 3D printing and CNC routers, robotics, and virtual reality. The two institutions will also look at methods to better track STEM students as they make their way through the pipeline to a timely completion of a STEM bachelor’s degree.
Sharon Sledge, mathematics professor at San Jacinto College and lead on the grant, says that she hopes to create – either virtually or with a physical space – a network for STEM students she is calling a “Community of Scholars.” This space would be a “home away from home” for students to receive additional academic and financial support, mentoring, and networking with other STEM students and potential four-year college recruiters. She also envisions using San Jacinto College alumni to help students who intend to transfer to a four-year college or university.
“By utilizing alumni from San Jacinto College and hosting or attending STEM-based events at our partner universities, we hope that this will provide social and scholarly interactions to ease the transition of transferring,” Sledge said. “At the end of the day, having students transfer and obtain their baccalaureate degrees is part of the College’s mission, and this grant fits right in with our College goals.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries, and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has served the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. San Jacinto College is a 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Top 10 institution, a 2017 Aspen Prize Rising Star Award recipient, and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. The College serves approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers eight areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College’s impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs.