ESPANOLA, NM ― Northern New Mexico College has been awarded a $299,997 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its EDUCERE project to increase enrollment and retention of Native American and Hispanic students in the Engineering Program.
From Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept 30, 2019, Northern’s College of Engineering and Technology will implement a research project called EDUCERE: Ensuring Diversity and Undergraduate Completion: Enrichment and Retention in Engineering. The project, which is being led by Drs. Ashis Nandy, Steven Cox and Stephanie Amedeo Marquez, is designed to explore how under-represented students best learn complex Physical Science concepts.
As part of the EDUCERE project curriculum, students will be introduced to physics concepts by participating in active learning and project based activities, before the theoretical foundation is laid and after, to determine which learning model provides the best predictor of success.
According to Dr. Marquez, student success, particularly with regard to Native American and Hispanic students, is deeply linked to providing a sense of belonging.
“We’re measuring students’ sense of belonging to predict and explain retention, persistence and graduation rates in our STEM programs,” Dr. Marquez said.
Currently 30 first-time college students are enrolled in the Physics for Engineers I class where the EDUCERE curriculum will be implemented and their progress will be tracked for the duration of the grant. Students will also participate in active research and mentoring experiences, as well as summer internships to encourage practical preparation and commitment to pursuing STEM career pathways and graduate studies in STEM fields.
“We are just getting started and are very excited that the NSF-sponsored EDUCERE project will open up many possibilities for Northern engineering students and the general community,” Dr. Ashis Nandy said. “We hope to improve retention and graduation rates significantly by providing our students several high-quality and engaging educational, research and career opportunities which would ultimately prepare them well for the STEM workforce.”