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NSF Grants $750K for STEM Majors at Fairmont State

The grant from the National Science Foundation will provide scholarships for 18 students to study computer science, math, biology, engineering technology or other subjects at the university over the next six years.

Fairmont State University.jpg
Fairmont State University
(TNS) — An almost $750,000 grant from National Science Foundation will provide scholarships to 18 Fairmont State University students who want to major and work in science, technology, engineering and math.

“Over the course of six years, Fairmont State’s Scholarships-Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S-STEM) program will recruit and directly support 18 low-income undergraduates from their first to fourth years of university education, as well as facilitate opportunities for securing gainful employment upon graduation,” states a Fairmont State press release.

Degree programs impacted by the grant include degrees in computer science (along with a cybersecurity concentration), mathematics, biology, chemistry, forensic science, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering technology, occupational safety and surveying and geomatics engineering technology.

In addition to receiving scholarship support, the students will participate in special programming in and out of the classroom to help ensure their success. S-STEM students will be invited to become a part of a STEM Living and Learning Community where they will interact with their faculty and peer mentors on a regular basis, especially during their freshman year.

Partnerships with local and regional industries will provide unique opportunities for the students as well.

“There is a vast STEM gap in Appalachia, and nowhere is that chasm more keenly experienced than in West Virginia,” Fairmont State President Mirta Martin said. “While our state is filled with academic talent, many of those young students simply don’t have access to the kinds of opportunities that will allow them to develop as STEM scholars and pursue STEM careers.

“The S-STEM program a program that goes beyond scholarships and includes mentorship, student success initiatives, unique learning experiences and career guidance — will go a long way toward filling the opportunity gap for West Virginia students interested in STEM fields. I, along with our expert teacher-mentors who teach in STEM fields here at Fairmont State, are thrilled to be a part of this vital and game-changing project.”

Faculty and peer mentors will receive ongoing professional development on topics related to mentoring, advising and student engagement techniques. S-STEM students will be involved in providing feedback to help keep the program student-focused.

The six-year project will be led by Robert Niichel, associate professor of mathematics, who will be assisted by Jojo Joseph, assistant professor of chemistry and Abby Chapman, assistant professor of occupational safety. The project will also be supported by a team of faculty in the College of Science and Technology and staff from across campus.

“We hope our program will change the course of our students’ lives and help us improve our STEM teaching and advising,” Niichel said. “And, I think we have developed a program that can do that.”

©2022 the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.