California State University, Northridge has received a nearly $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help prepare tomorrow’s engineers and computer scientists.
Specifically, the university has received the five-year grant from the department’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Program to increase the number of underrepresented and low-income students who transfer from a community college and then graduate from CSUN with degrees in engineering or computer science.
“As we look to the future, we can think of no greater investment than the education of our future engineers and computer scientists,” said S.K. Ramesh, dean of Northridge’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, who will oversee the project. “This grant will have an enduring impact on the academic success and career choices of the talented youth in our region and, ultimately, we hope an enduring impact on the growth and health of California’s economy. As these talented students, who represent minorities and women, matriculate to the university, they will in turn serve as role models for others in their communities.”
Under the provisions of the grant, faculty and staff in CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science will work closely with their counterparts at Glendale Community College and the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita to help identify potential students for the program, and provide those students with the support they need to successfully transfer to Cal State Northridge and then graduate from the university.
University officials envision the program graduating a total of 120 students during the five-year duration of the grant.
Those students would receive proactive advisement and tracking, organized tutoring, peer and faculty mentoring, hands-on research opportunities and project-based learning. They would get career advisement and other assistance to move on into the workforce or to graduate school. The students would also receive stipends to help ease the costs of their education.
Ramesh said one of the unique aspects of the grant is that it allows faculty from the three institutions—CSUN, College of the Canyons and Glendale Community College—to collaborate on curriculum development using interactive technologies. “This is expected to lead to seamless transfer agreements and enable students to graduate in a timely manner,” he said.
“We’re hoping that our program can serve as a model for other universities around the country on how to reach out and meet an important need,” Ramesh continued.
“When we look at the emerging workforce needs in industry, and the demographics of that workforce, it’s very important that the workforce reflects what our population looks like,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for us to not only strengthen our relationships with community colleges who send us transfer students, but to truly make an impact on the graduation of underrepresented minorities in engineering and computer science with a cohesive and holistic approach that engages all stakeholders.”
Cal State Northridge’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is home to several nationally recognized programs where students gain valuable hands-on experience working alongside faculty members and industry professionals on cutting-edge research. It offers a variety of degrees in such subjects as civil and applied mechanics, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, manufacturing systems engineering and management and mechanical engineering.