College receives NSF grant to recruit women and engage students

A-B Tech Community College has been awarded a nearly $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project to recruit and retain female students and deliver problem-based learning to all students.

The $199,896 grant will fund a project titled Skilled Students Get Jobs: Recruiting Women and Engaging ALL Students. The project will provide relevant problem-based learning in the first-year courses and increase the number of highly skilled workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) priority areas, according to Business Computer Technologies Chair Pam Silvers, principal investigator of the project. It is funded through March 31, 2015.

“The goals of the project are to increase the number of female students in nine programs and to implement the proven educational strategy of problem-based learning for all students,” she said. The project’s three components are recruiting female students, retaining these students by supporting gender equity strategies and providing relevance through problem-based learning to all students.

Co-principal investigators for the project are Sharon Seuss, Mechanical Engineering Technology Chair; Steven Marcus, Networking Technology Instructor; and Jim Sullivan, Civil Engineer/Surveying Technology Chair.

The nine programs being impacted are Civil Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering Technology, Computer Information Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, Information Systems Security, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Networking Technology, Surveying Technology, and Sustainability Technology.

Vernon Daugherty, Dean of Engineering and Applied Technology, and Lewis Lightner, Networking Technology Chair, assisted with the project’s development.  They will serve on the Project Leadership Team and, along with Silvers, will serve as liaisons between A-B Tech and Advanced Technological Education partners, the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SCATE) National Resource Center and CyberWatch.

“This project is the result of numerous conversations, meetings, and relationships with industry. Growth during the economic downturn has highlighted the need for more skilled workers and drives the project goal of increasing the number and diversity of skilled technicians,” Silvers said.