Brooklyn, NY — November 28, 2006 — New York City College of Technology (City Tech) of The City University of New York (CUNY) recently received nearly $2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to increase opportunities for students underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math careers.
“We expect these grants will help us improve retention and graduation rates for students from groups traditionally underrepresented in math and the sciences, particularly women,” says City Tech Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Bonne August. “In the larger arena, the gains in student retention and progress toward degrees we hope to achieve will ultimately have national impact on the number of Hispanic and African-American professionals choosing science, computing or engineering careers.”
The largest of the three grants is from the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education, which awarded City Tech $990,657 over five years for a project entitled, “Metropolitan Mentors Network (MetroNet): Growing an Urban STEM Talent Pool across New York City.” STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
“The purpose of the grant is to cultivate a network of mentors and opportunities with the goal of increasing the number of students receiving associate and bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” says Dr. Pamela Brown, acting dean of City Tech’s School of Arts & Sciences, who is overseeing the initiative.
MetroNet will identify and enroll promising graduating high school seniors in an interdisciplinary pre-freshman summer course. Close faculty-student interaction, research activities and block programming will orient students to the culture of the science and engineering fields. City Tech faculty and current teaching assistants in CUNY STEM graduate programs will mentor the students, while graduate students will be introduced to college teaching.
Brown further explains, “MetroNet will establish well-marked pathways from high school through the associate and bachelor’s degrees to employment or graduate education, and provide a safety net of academic, social and economic supports.” City Tech’s project will also serve as a model for other urban public colleges.
A second NSF grant of $496,800 over four years has been awarded to the College for the creation of a scholarship program within that funding agency’s STEM Talent Expansion Program (S-STEM). Principal Investigator for the project is Dr. Xiangdong Li, who previously served as director of an NSF-funded laboratory for an information assurance project at City Tech.
The program offers 36 scholarships for academically promising but economically disadvantaged students in the College’s Department of Computer Engineering Technology, to be selected from current students, transfer students into City Tech’s baccalaureate program from CUNY community colleges, and area high school students. By reducing financial burdens on students, the scholarships should lead to quicker completion of degrees and securing of employment. Recipients will be encouraged to pursue research and investigate technological careers.
“I have a passion for helping minority students,” says Dr. Li, “and this program presents exciting possibilities. These scholarships will help students remain in college, focus on their study, and complete their degrees in a timely manner. ”
The initiative offers many academic and professional options, such as contacts with faculty mentors and counselors as well as business and industry representatives, internships, research experience and tutoring. Notes Li, “The College’s experience with student mentoring and research has shown that students engaged in these activities build self-esteem and are more likely to further their education.”
From the DOE’s Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program, City Tech will receive $399,965 for a project called, “The Transfer of Learning from Mathematics and Physics to Computer Science and Engineering Applications,” which aims to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from theory to problem-solving in engineering.
Says Dr. Roman Kezerashvili, the City Tech professor of physics who will coordinate this initiative, “The project will establish the laboratory as a primary learning tool early in students’ academic careers, so that they have a taste of the excitement of science and engineering research.” It also seeks to demonstrate the efficacy of e-learning and e-teaching through a web-based system called Blackboard, providing more avenues of learning for non-traditional students, many of whom are juggling work and family responsibilities.
Hands-on laboratory experiences will be extended through Blackboard for interdisciplinary problem-solving activities, and the program will enable the College to create a new optics laboratory and upgrade other labs. “We are institutionalizing the mechanism of a virtual community,” explains Kezerashvili, “as well as providing STEM students with appropriate research experiences in well-equipped laboratories, to ensure that they are prepared for the workplace.”
The largest public college of technology in New York State, New York City College of Technology of The City University of New York enrolls more than 13,000 students in 57 baccalaureate, associate and specialized certificate programs in the technologies of art and design, business, computer systems, engineering, entertainment, health care, hospitality, human services, the law-related professions, career and technology teacher education, and the liberal arts and sciences. Another 14,300 students enroll annually in adult education and workforce development programs, many of which lead to licensure and certification. Located at 300 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, City Tech is at the MetroTech Center academic and commercial complex, convenient to public transportation.
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