NSF S-STEM Programs

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WPI has been awarded several National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM grants to “fund scholarships for academically talented low-income students and to study and implement a program of activities that support their recruitment, retention and graduation in STEM.” As multiple faculty and staff pilot and study different interventions of their scholarship program, the Office of Undergraduate Studies supports the efforts and works to institutionalize and sustain the successful program components.

 

Examples include:

Renewable Energy Materials Scholars STEM (REMS-STEM)

Izabela Stroe (PI), Lyubov Titova, Pratap Rao, Michael Timko, and Art Heinricher

The primary goal of the project is to overcome the known barriers to community college students in completing a four-year degree in STEM education. REMS-STEM will provide wrap-around support services to funded students, including: a combined approach towards curriculum enrichment; applied research opportunities; hierarchical mentoring; and career-development services. The REMS-STEM program will provide enhanced career development support by including entrepreneurial mindset training through a student-centered pedagogy and by facilitating the access of REMS-STEM scholars to a network of national and regional partnerships. The project will produce knowledge about the effectiveness of the supports for the S-STEM scholars, particularly in the area of mentoring, where the faculty will mentor advanced students who will mentor early undergraduate students.

 

Connecting Mentor Partners for Academic Success of Undergraduates in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (CoMPASS)

Jessica Rosewitz (PI), Kathy Chen, Debra Boucher

CoMPASS supplements the WPI Great Minds scholarship for low income, academically talented, first-generation students from Worcester Public Schools (WPS) and provides orientation and navigation in attending and graduating from WPI. The project goal is to capture CoMPASS scholars’ experience throughout their college career to examine ways in which the institution helps or hinders the students experience of first generation, low-income students at a private STEM-focused university. Objectives of the grant are to: 1) Financially, academically, and emotionally support CoMPASS Scholars with holistic, intentional, and research-backed programming designed to help students adapt over time from starting college to succeeding in college to becoming a STEM professional, 2) Develop, implement, and investigate an assets-based framework with a mentor network (e.g., peer, near-peer, and faculty/staff) and workshops that will lead to sustainable, institutional change to support students of different identities, 3) Examine the ways in which our students navigate and experience the institution over time that influence student retention and graduation, and 4) Increase the number of low income, academically talented, and first generation WPS students that apply, enroll, and graduate with a STEM B.S. degree from WPI. The findings from this project will be used to inform future approaches, programs, and systems to support students from underrepresented and marginalized groups at WPI.

 

Creating a Path to Achieving Success and Sense of Belonging in Computer Science (PASS-CS)

Rodica Neamtu (PI), Debra Boucher, Crystal Brown, Hermine Vedogbeton (former PI)

The goals of this project include 1) closing the retention and graduation rate gap between the low-income (Pell) scholars and non-Pell computing students, and 2) providing interconnected support opportunities to enhance the academic performance and sense of belonging for students earning a B.S. degree in computer science. To meet these goals the project will study, develop, and implement an evidence-based network model where cohort peers connect, study together, and build their computer science identity throughout their college education. These activities will be evaluated based on the success, retention, and graduation of low-income students in computing. This project will advance our understanding of best practices and lessons that will assist other educators in improving STEM education. 

 

The NSF's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program, seeks to increase the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields. It also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers, and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic/career pathways of low-income students.

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