GPC earns National Science Foundation $1.5 Million STEP Grant

09/14/2011
Contact: Roger Barnes
Phone: 678-891-2693
Fax: 678-891-2966   
Author: Roger Barnes   

From more than 200 applicants nationwide, the National Science Foundation has selected Georgia Perimeter College as one of three colleges to earn a five-year, $1.5 million grant to enhance the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs at the college.  This is the fourth STEM-related grant GPC announced in the past week.

These grants will be used for tutoring, scholarships, course materials, student recruiting and new administrators for STEM-related majors. The combination of all four grants brings Georgia Perimeter a guaranteed $2.6 million in STEM initiatives over the next five years with a potential of $3.5 million if GPC is successful in reapplying for an annual USG STEM grant.  .

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) grant is GPC’s most recent and largest NSF grant. STEP, totaling $1.5 million over five years, will be used for a pre-college bridge program and to support students from their initial enrollment at GPC to their transfer to four-year institutions. The goal is to increase the number of students graduating from STEM programs of study. The NSF recognized a national shortfall in college graduates earning degrees in STEM majors which include engineering, computer science, biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics and geology.

“This is a program grant, it’s for the long-term and enables students to have a pipeline to their four-year institution,” said Pamela Leggett-Robinson, associate professor of chemistry and Decatur Campus Science Department chair. She noted that the grant focuses on every step of the students’ academic career at: The Freshman Year-Retention and Persistence, Deepening STEM Understanding, and Building the STEM Resume.

Leggett-Robinson said the grant is filled with a multitude of activities to help students at each step as well as engage different entities of the college. These activities include a mobile Career Fair (STEM Career ConNEXTion), Video-Based Supplemental Instruction, 3 Summer Bridge Programs, Civic Engagement Experiences, Career Workshop Seminars, and College/Industry Visits. However, Leggett-Robinson is most excited about the STEM Regional Business and Educational Consortium that will be established through the STEP grant.

“This consortium will enable students and faculty to formalize linkages with corporations such as Delta, Cisco, Coca-Cola, and Beaver Manufacturing,” she said. “I am hopeful that some of our students will be able to obtain internships as a result of this consortium.”

STEP marks the fourth STEM grant Georgia Perimeter has recently announced. Last week GPC was awarded a one-year $310,000 STEM grant from the University System of Georgia. The USG grant funds GPC’s Math, Engineering, Science, Achievement club and also provides mini-grants that instructors can use for special classroom projects. This grant also allows GPC to hire an executive-level administrator to coordinate all the college’s STEM initiatives.

GPC also announced a five-year $598,000 Educate and Nurture Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math grant from the NSF. This ENLISTEM grant provides scholarships for gifted students who are seeking to earn a degree in a STEM major.

Rounding off the week was GPC’s announcement that the NSF has renewed a five-year, $4.9 million Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation grant that Georgia Perimeter College shares with six other University System of Georgia institutions.

LSAMP supports special programs and initiatives to increase the number of African American, Latino American and other underrepresented minority students graduating from college with STEM degrees. Georgia Tech, Fort Valley State University, Kennesaw State University, Savannah State University, Southern Polytechnic State University and the University of Georgia are GPC’s LSAMP partners. All Peach State LSAMP partners collaborate on projects, presentations and instruction that prepare students for the future.

“These four grants give Georgia Perimeter College an unprecedented role in addressing the projected shortfall in the number of college graduates completing STEM majors,” said GPC President Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli. “GPC now has the resources to make a difference in the nation and in all the communities we serve as we prepare students from a wide diversity of backgrounds with a variety of tools for success.  Whether they’re looking for scholarships, tutoring, peer mentoring or more lively instruction, GPC should now be considered a top choice for students desiring a place to build a solid foundation in STEM-related knowledge and understanding before moving on to a four-year college.”

Tricoli noted that GPC has been the leader in students transferring to Georgia Tech through the state’s Regents Engineering Transfer Program.

“In being one of only three colleges awarded the highly selective NSF STEP grant, GPC is honored,” Tricoli said. “This is a testament to the outstanding work our instructors have done here in preparing our students to move on to four-year colleges as STEM majors and continuing to be successful once they leave GPC.”

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Georgia Perimeter College, the third largest institution of the University System of Georgia, serves more than 26,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit www.gpc.edu.