Adams State University (ASU) will receive $4,860,516 in funding over five years to support an increase in the number of Hispanic and low-income students who earn science, technology, engineering and math degrees (STEM).
The centerpiece of the Department of Education Hispanic-Serving Institution Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (HSI STEM) grant is a partnership between ASU and Colorado State University-Fort Collins (CSU) that allows students to earn an A.S. degree in mechanical engineering from ASU, then transfer seamlessly into CSU to earn a B.S. degree. Uniquely, both degrees are delivered in their entirety on ASU’s campus.
While ASU provides all lower-division coursework for the first two years, CSU faculty based in Alamosa will deliver all upper-division coursework for the last two years. The new program’s first cohort of students will begin in Fall 2022, with services based in El Centro Sierra Blanca — ASU’s new STEM Center.
“This innovative model provides students in the San Luis Valley access to a professional degree with excellent employment and earning potential,” says Matt Nehring, Ph.D., interim director of Adams State’s School of STEM. “Partnerships like these create opportunities that are vital for our low-income and under-resourced region.”
Moreover, the project is explicit in developing an equity model as its foundation. Consequently, the grant calls for faculty development in cultural responsiveness, to center awareness on inequities in education and bias in the classroom, and to develop assessment and self-reflection skills that lead to better engagement with underrepresented students.
Grant funds will also ensure that underrepresented students have the support systems necessary to complete their degrees. For example, students will take advantage of an engineering orientation, required STEM first-year seminars, peer-mentoring, and corequisite instruction across STEM gateway courses. The partnership will also implement structured internships through CSU’s vast industry internship network as another way to promote diversity in STEM careers.
“As the premier Hispanic-Serving Institution in Colorado, Adams State is uniquely positioned to promote diversity in STEM fields,” says Kent Buchanan, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs. “In addition to access, we offer culturally responsive support systems that low-income, first-generation and other underrepresented students need to thrive in higher education.”