February 2010, Volume 14, Number 1

Features

Growing STEMs - $3 million grant supports students in sciences

Robotic hand

Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are some of the fastest-growing fields right now, and MDC is making sure that students keep up the pace with Project V-Coach. Backed by a five-year, $3 million grant, the goals of Project V-Coach are two-fold: to recruit more students to these fields, and to provide STEM students with a technology-based virtual advising, tutoring and support system.

"There’s a lot of well-paying work in these fields, and there’s job availability, but there’s also a need to keep STEM-prepared graduates in the nation so the work stays here," said María Ileana García, director of Project V-Coach.

The program has already seen many successes in its pilot stage and is gearing up to launch campuswide this year. In its first year, the Office of Retention and Transition Services at Hialeah Campus designed and offered a STEM Summer Jam to high school students. The program offered math skills improvement, student life skills, workshops by experts in STEM fields, and STEM-related movies, among other experiences. Pre-and post-tests showed that those who completed the program increased total pass scores.

Because math courses tend to be some of the most challenging for students in STEM fields, one of the focuses of the grant is to assist with math course retention and progression.

Students in STEM fields will also find support from Project V-Coach’s virtual system, which detects at-risk factors that affect students’ progress and success. Self-assessment, self-tutoring and access to educational materials are just a few of the system’s offerings.

— NM


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