Education

Grant to Boost IU Northwest STEM Efforts

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By: Lakeshore Staff

February 28, 2015 — To address the national and local shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals, Indiana University Northwest recently applied for and was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to attract and graduate students interested in pursuing these fields. The grant, totaling more than $600,000, will be used to provide scholarships and academic support to local students interested in studying science, math or technology at IU Northwest. The scholarships will be funded over a five-year period and will be awarded to students based on academic merit and financial need.

IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe said the award is a “significant recognition of the high quality of the science, technology and mathematics disciplines at IU Northwest and the importance of scholarships and academic support for qualified students” that will strengthen degree completion in STEM fields throughout the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland region.

“IU Northwest is honored to have been awarded this NSF grant. With this funding, our campus will be able to attract and graduate talented students from the region who might not otherwise have the means to pursue their interest in STEM fields,” said Lowe. “The scholarship and academic support programs will both benefit students and strengthen our region’s economy. Professionals in STEM fields earn more, are in high demand among employers, and often create jobs by starting their own businesses.”

Specifically, the grant funds IU Northwest’s proposed Advancing Indiana Math and Science (AIMS) initiative, which is intended to increase the number of STEM graduates in the region. Under the program, academically qualified students demonstrating financial need will receive up to $10,000 per year for four years to pursue biology, chemistry, geology, computer information systems, informatics, actuarial science, or mathematics degrees at IU Northwest. The scholarship will cover tuition and living expenses, which will enable students to attend full-time. The initiative will fund approximately 26 scholarships over a five-year period. High school graduates, community college graduates, and transfer students will be eligible to apply.

David Malik, Ph.D., IU Northwest’s Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said the program will provide talented students with an invaluable opportunity to receive a high-quality STEM education at little or no cost.

“Our region has a lot of first-generation college students who are interested in science and mathematics, but have unmet financial need, even at a very affordable campus like IU Northwest,” Malik said. “These scholarships make IU Northwest an especially affordable option for students, since they may be given up to $10,000 per year, which will almost entirely cover the cost of a college education here. This is also a tremendous opportunity for area students interested in STEM fields to receive a top-notch education from a renowned and supportive faculty.”

In addition to scholarship support, the AIMS initiative will provide strong educational support to incoming STEM students through a cohort-style system that includes a one-week STEM orientation prior to the fall semester, a first-year STEM seminar, peer-led instructional and leadership opportunities, and support for joint STEM club activities. Students will also benefit from faculty-mentored research or internship opportunities, depending on their majors, as well as job placement assistance. Expanded industrial and community partnerships with local industry will create experiential learning for students, while filling the needs of regional employers that are experiencing a shortage of STEM workers.

The AIMS project, which has set the goal of increasing STEM graduates by 10 percent over a five-year period, was proposed to the NSF by a group of faculty at IU Northwest in response to the Foundation’s request for proposals to address the national shortage of STEM graduates. The team was led by Professor Bhaskara Kopparty, Ph.D., who served as principal investigator, and included Professors Kristin Huysken, Ph.D., Dan Kelly, Ph.D., Vesna Kilibarda, Ph.D., and Michael LaPointe, Ph.D., who served as co-principal investigators.

Mark Hoyert, Ph.D., Dean of IU Northwest’s College of Arts and Sciences, attributed the proposal’s success to the high-quality and hard work of IU Northwest’s faculty.

“NSF grants are prestigious and very difficult to secure. The success of our faculty here is a testament to their talents and capabilities, and students continue to be the beneficiaries of their hard work,” said Hoyert. “Not only is our faculty well respected in their fields, but they are committed to the success of our students by being highly supportive and responsive to their needs.”

This fiscal year alone, IU Northwest has received more than $1.3 million in external funding to assist students and support the work of faculty and staff.

About Indiana University Northwest

As one of seven Indiana University campuses, IU Northwest leads the region as the premier, urban campus dedicated to serving the needs of more than 6,000 students from the state’s most diverse and industrialized region. Committed to helping its local Northwest Indiana communities thrive, IU Northwest is best-known for providing a personal, quality and affordable education close to home. IU Northwest positions its students to be leaders with more than 70 undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional degree options available from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Business and Economics, and the School of Education. The campus is also host to IU School of Medicine-Northwest, which actively involves students in research and local healthcare needs through its four-year medical doctorate program. For more information, please visit www.iun.edu.

Source: Indiana University Northwest

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