Texas Tech Receives $978,000 From NSF to Administer Growing Number of STEM Educational Outreach Programs

The grant will provide help to administer the university’s burgeoning educational outreach programs.

Texas Tech University President Guy Bailey and several other researchers recently received $978,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant, titled the Integrated STEM Initiative on the South Plains (ISISP), will provide help to administer the university’s burgeoning educational outreach programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). These outreach programs seek to support educators in STEM disciplines and to prepare more students for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Other investigators include Jaclyn Cañas, an assistant professor at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health;  Jerry Dwyer, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics; Juan Muñoz, vice president of institutional diversity, equity and community engagement; and Lawrence Schovanec, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Bailey said this grant will provide greater coordination among ongoing university STEM programs so that faculty members who participate in these activities are linked together as an outreach network. The five-year grant will involve hiring a dedicated recruitment specialist and supporting a coordinator of outreach. “If one considers the body of work and support for our related activities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, then one can see Texas Tech is establishing itself as a national leader in the field,” Bailey said. “We believe our work with STEM programs is required to keep Texas and the U.S. competitive in the future.” In recent years, the NSF has approved eight STEM proposals from Texas Tech faculty for about $13.5 million in total funding, said Lawrence Schovanec, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Because of the wide range and number of programs, researchers believed it was time to apply for this highly competitive administrative grant. “The goal for all Texas Tech’s STEM programs is to increase the number of students – especially students from underrepresented groups – who are interested in studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Schovanec said. “Texas Tech is really emerging as a national leader in STEM outreach programs, and these programs are very much an institutional effort with many researchers involved across colleges and disciplines. This grant provides an umbrella for administrative oversight and coordination for institutions with multiple NSF-funded STEM programs.” The grant comes from the NSF’s Innovation Through Institutional Integration Program. Along with NSF-funded STEM initiatives, the university also has additional programs funded by other agencies, such as a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for the Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate program and $3 million from the Greater Texas Foundation to fund a master’s program for middle school math and science teachers. The Texas Tech T-STEM Center, a separate entity housing three programs that have demonstrated positive impact on K-12 STEM education, provides curriculum, professional development and recruitment for teachers. The center, started in 2006, has nearly $2.2 million in funding. Additional STEM programs are funded by agencies including the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Workforce Commission. CONTACT: Lawrence Schovanec, interim dean, College of Arts and Sciences, (806) 742-3833, or lawrence.schovanec@ttu.edu, or Jerry Dwyer, assistant professor, Department of Mathematics; (806) 742-2580 ext 230, or jerry.dwyer@ttu.edu.