The grant will go toward supporting educational opportunities for 24 high-achieving undergraduates who demonstrate a financial need.
Texas Tech University on Wednesday (Jan. 30) received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will help financially disadvantaged, high-achieving undergraduate students.
The funding, which comes from the NSF's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program, will fund three-year scholarships over the next five years for two groups of 12 students who are pursuing bachelor's degrees in electrical and computer engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering.
The project will partner with Texas Tech's Innovation Hub at Research Park and I-Corps program, which enables scientists and engineers to develop methods to bring innovation to market.
"We are very excited to further advance the education and careers of our electrical and computer engineering students through this National Science Foundation award," said Tim Dallas, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate dean of the Graduate School.
"This project will allow us to determine if students can gain intrapreneurial skills and knowledge through participation in specialized coursework and programs at the Innovation Hub. Opportunities for students from low-income backgrounds and traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM will be expanded, leading to a more diverse workforce."
Joining Dallas on this interdisciplinary research project are Kelly Frias, a professor of marketing in the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, Heather Greenhalgh-Spencer, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education, Tanja Karp, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Annette Hernandez, the associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Whitacre College of Engineering.
The project was praised by the office of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who lauded those involved in the grant process and expressed his gratitude to the Trump Administration for supporting Texas Tech students.
"Engineers with an eye for innovation and keen leadership will always be in high demand, and we should give Texas students every advantage to succeed," Cornyn said.
The goal of the project being funded is to develop intrapreneurship competencies in response to the needs of engineering-focused companies. Intrapreneurship differs from entrepreneurship in that it enables developing innovations within an already existing organization.
According to the grant description, intrapreneurial skills have been shown to support career progression and improve managerial skills and opportunities. This project will help undergraduates develop these skills by providing them with resources that include scholarships, faculty and industry mentors, workforce development seminars, industrial internships and entrepreneurship training.
Investigators will gather and analyze data from testing, mentor interviews and student surveys and correlate it with student achievement measures such as grade-point average, retention and degree progress. The goal is to give researchers insight into the relationship between intrapreneurial education and engineering student achievement, and that interactions with industry and faculty mentors will improve student retention and lead to increased internships and employment opportunities.
"I want to congratulate Professor Dallas and the entire S-STEM proposal leadership team for their success in obtaining this high-profile NSF support," said Joseph Heppert, vice president for research in the Office of Research & Innovation. "This project is exciting because it will allow some of our best engineering students to develop intrapreneurial capabilities as part of their Texas Tech experience. Aligning Texas Tech's world-class undergraduate engineering education with the power of our existing NSF-sponsored innovation and entrepreneurship training programs is a brilliant concept that will provide real value for participating students. We are very grateful that NSF has recognized Texas Tech and Professor Dallas' team members as leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship."