The STEM Institute has been supported by many generous donors. The majority of current funding is provided by a three-year grant from the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas. Additional donors include Beth Bass, Citi Foundation, a congressional appropriation sponsored by Eddie Bernice Johnson, Fluor Foundation, Frontiers of Flight Museum, Greater Texas Foundation, Hillcrest Foundation, Hunt Consolidated, Hunter and Stephanie Hunt, Intel Foundation, Margaret McDermott, Erle Nye, Sammons Enterprises Inc. and Texas Instruments Foundation.
Funding covers tuition, books, and fees for more than 100 STEM scholars a year, stipends for faculty fellows, staff support and programming. More than $2.6 million has been received since the program was initiated in 2009.
All seven colleges of DCCCD participate in the STEM Institute:
Brookhaven • Cedar Valley • Eastfield • El Centro • Mountain View • North Lake • Richland
The STEM Institute was established in 2009 to provide a transformative experience for scholars as they pursue their educations within the colleges of DCCCD, in preparation for university transfer and to fill a critical workforce need for prepared professionals in STEM fields.
The target population is bright, STEM-oriented students from all seven colleges of DCCCD who have successfully completed at least one semester of college and who plan to transfer to a university in a nonclinical STEM field. The goal is to provide an engaging, supportive environment for scholars, motivating them to complete degrees and pursue STEM careers.
Funding was provided by a Texas Workforce Commission Skills Development Fund grant with an emphasis in construction, given the company’s product line.
The STEM Institute has served more than 600 students since its inception. Scholars and faculty mentors from all seven colleges of DCCCD are selected through a competitive application process to be part of the rigorous program. The program provides full tuition and books, focused career guidance, help with the university transfer process, internship placement and personal mentoring by top faculty in STEM fields within the colleges of DCCCD.
Additional components include professional skill workshops on topics from business etiquette to networking, with the opportunity to meet STEM professionals from both industry and academia. The annual STEM summit every April has featured keynote speakers such as astronaut Dr. Mary Ellen Weber; famed ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau; internationally renowned neuroscientist Dr. Miguel Nicolelis; and Skylar Tibbits, director of the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT.
Historically, many students decide to leave STEM fields during the first two years of college. To reduce attrition, the STEM Institute provides academic, mentoring and professional support. Financial assistance allows students to lessen work obligations that compete with study time.
A key element in program success is the group of dedicated STEM faculty fellows who mentor students one-on-one. Another strategy is putting students in direct contact with successful professionals in a variety of work environments. The STEM Institute and supporting organizations collaborate to gather feedback, with formative evaluation guiding future programming. Supporting organizations also provide internships, speakers and scholarship funding.
More than 90 percent of scholars have earned degrees, have transferred to a university or are still studying at the colleges of DCCCD. Universities are now participating in a transfer workshop focused specifically on STEM pathways. A Web page has been developed for STEM scholars with additional information on internships and research experiences, and social networking skills and industry visits have been added to professional skill development programming. DCCCD is transitioning to programmatic support for the STEM Institute, allowing funding from outside supporters to focus on student scholarships.
Scholarship support has been increased to allow students to focus more on their studies and less on jobs unrelated to their work, and faculty mentors have received additional training to maximize their skills. A key overall lesson is that the retention is most effective when all components are integrated — mentoring, financial support and professional skill programming.
The greatest driver of economic development in our community is the quality and education of our workforce. With over 700,000 jobs in STEM industries forecasted for Texas by 2018, these STEM scholars hold the key to future success of our region.
I’ve come to understand how much the young people selected for the STEM program can accomplish, and how much they carry forward from their scholarships. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to help students with so much potential reach that potential.
STEM careers include:
Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas lists these projected job openings and salaries in its 2014-2015 Targeted Occupations list:
America’s Career Infonet lists these statistics for salaries and job growth in Texas:
Contact Dr. Peggy Shadduck, STEM institute director, at 214-378-1553, or see the
STEM Institute Web page.