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RIT to help boost STEM for low-income students at many colleges

RIT to help boost STEM for low-income students at many colleges

A $370,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will allow Rochester Institute of Technology to help other colleges compete for federal funding aimed at expanding STEM opportunities for bright, low-income students.

“It’s critical to our national interests that we do whatever we can to grow the pipeline of students for STEM careers, and in particular to increase opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged students,” said Paul Tymann, professor of computer science at RIT who is leading the project. Tymann, who has worked at RIT since 1997, was on loan to the NSF for three years and said that while working there, “we saw potential to grow programs with community colleges, but many do not have the support to write proposals that schools like RIT have.”

Under his direction, RIT will develop a workshop to help educators from other institutions learn about how to successfully apply for grant money from the NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program. Tymann said he expects to put on two workshops attended by 20 educators each.

“RIT has had a long history of partnering with community colleges to enable students to transfer seamlessly into the university, and this federal investment will enable us to further strengthen and expand these relationships, while at the same time helping to grow the workforce talent that is critically needed for our nation’s future,” said Tymann. “Initially, we are planning to target schools in the northeast region on this project.”

RIT’s grant will help pay for transportation and lodging costs for faculty who visit RIT for workshops, and for experienced STEM educators to travel so they can mentor the college educators who are applying for federal grants.

Workshops will also focus on identifying ways low-income students need support in their STEM studies, and how colleges can improve retention and success of these students.

“STEM careers are the future of our workforce. It is critical that we ensure all students have access to educational opportunities in these exciting fields,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “RIT is a global leader in STEM education and I am pleased that this funding will allow them to share their expertise and partner with community colleges to encourage and expand offerings within these disciplines.”

Tymann said RIT has worked with local institutions in developing transfer programs before, but this program will reach far outside the Rochester area. Besides managing this grant program, he is also director of the RIT’s Center for Computing Outreach, Research and Education (C-CORE).

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