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IU receives $1.66 million grant for STEM education


By Ashleigh Sherman



The U.S. Department of the Navy awarded IU a $1.66 million, five-year grant to develop an innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics education model to train diverse STEM researchers.

The model is intended to increase the number of minority students interested in and prepared to successfully pursue careers in these industries.

The Department of the Navy selected to award IU the grant in part because IU had already successfully developed a STEM initiative with 12 historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, according to the release. The STEM initiative increased the number of African American students interested in and prepared to successfully enter graduate degree programs within STEM fields.

“A component of the initiative’s success is the STEM Summer Scholars Institute, an eight-week summer research program for high-ability students from our partner institutions,” said Assistant Dean of the University Graduate School and a co-project investigator Jack Schmit in the release. “Indiana University’s HBCU STEM initiative will be used as the foundation for the Minority Serving Institutions STEM model. The grant will allow us to maintain our current partner relationships while we fully develop the new model.”

The STEM Summer Scholars Institute enrolls select students from both IU and HBCUs from partner institutions, according to the project’s website.

“This (new) program will provide an excellent opportunity for HBCUs and MIs to experience the importance of collaboration early in their scientific career,” said Anthony Smith, Department of the Navy HBCU and minority institutions program director, in the release. “As scientists and engineers, all of what we do and accomplish centers around working with a diverse team of individuals that possess vast areas of expertise. We, the DON HBCU/MI program, are excited about the IU-MSI STEM initiative and are looking forward to years of success.”

Principle pillars of the model include extending IU’s STEM alliance with minority institutions from 12 to 20 minority institutions, according to an IU press 
release.

They also include encouraging researchers and laboratories at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division to support research opportunities for minority and underrepresented students, according to the release.

Key aspects of the model also include encouraging faculty and student collaboration between the core IU campuses and partner minority institutions, as well as promoting use of digital technology in those collaborations, according to the 
release.

Another principle pillar of the model includes creating a Faculty Research Development Institute, according to the release.

“The importance of preparing new talent for the STEM fields remains a national priority, and Indiana University is well-positioned to take a lead in developing a model that will expand student research opportunities as well as strengthen the future STEM workforce,” said James Wimbush, IU’s vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs and the lead project investigator, in the release.

IU’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs seeks to cultivate an inclusive environment that promotes diversity, according to the release.

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