Entrance to California State University San Marcos.
Entrance to California State University San Marcos. Photo by Chris Stone

A new grant worth nearly $5 million from the U.S. Department of Education will help California State University San Marcos increase equity for STEM students.

Campus officials offered more information about the grant, which will be used beginning Friday to expand opportunities for those interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields.

The grant, funded at just under $1 million a year over five years, is part of the Department of Education’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions – Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics program. It’s intended to increase the number of Hispanic and/or low-income students attaining STEM degrees.

CSUSM received a similar award in 2016. That award, which totaled almost $6 million over five years, provided funding to begin software and electrical engineering programs, create articulation and transfer agreements in engineering with partner two-year colleges, and build an “ecosystem of student success” for engineering majors.

The stated goals for the new grant include:

  • Continuing to create support systems for those seeking STEM degrees, including advising, peer and faculty mentoring and student-learning communities.
  • Developing a computer engineering degree program.
  • Developing additional industry partnerships, including co-operative education, while providing students with internship opportunities.
  • Partnering with community colleges to recruit students to San Marcos STEM programs and develop summer bridge programs for transfer students and freshmen, and
  • Increasing the number of Hispanic and/or low-income students attaining STEM degrees.

“I am very excited about the new programs and partnerships that will be possible with the support of this grant,” said Jackie Trischman, a Cal State San Marcos’ interim dean and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Not only will we expand our college’s degree options in the high-demand computer engineering field, but we will also continue our work to create a more responsive, inclusive and service-minded college and university.”

The project leaders for the grant will be Suzanne Hizer, a biology lecturer, and Stephen Tsui, an associate professor of physics and chair of the department. Ricardo D. Fierro, an associate dean and project director for the previous grant, led the working group that developed the main ideas for the current proposal.

CSUSM is one of 33 Hispanic-Serving Institutions in California that received federal funding for STEM programs. The other two grantees in San Diego County are San Diego State University and San Diego City College.

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, holds a degree in mechanical engineering.

“Diversity in the research environment drives scientific discovery; that’s why I’m supporting a government-wide push to increase equity in STEM education,” he said. “A more diverse STEM pipeline is key to maintaining America’s leadership in innovation and promise of educational opportunity for all.”

– City News Service