Carroll University was awarded a five-year, $446,123 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) seeks to increase the number of students receiving associate or baccalaureate degrees in established or emerging fields within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The Carroll University STEP Initiative for Engineering in Waukesha County is a partnership between Carroll, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UWP), UW-Milwaukee (UWM), the School District of Waukesha, the Milwaukee Public Schools district, Catholic Memorial High School and the engineering industry in Waukesha.
“We are grateful for NSF’s support of our project,” said Dr. Jane Hopp, dean of Carroll’s College of Natural Sciences, Health Sciences and Business. “This initiative is a model program for small liberal arts institutions to partner with area high schools, local industry and universities with engineering programs. Together, we will work to expand and strengthen STEM pathways, to encourage more students, particularly women, to pursue engineering careers, and to address local workforce shortages.”
In response to the industry shortage, an existing 3+2 private-public university partnership allows students to complete three years of coursework at Carroll in applied physics and pre-engineering, and two years in the engineering field of their choice at UWP or UWM. Upon successful completion of five years of study, students earn a Bachelor of Science degree in applied physics from Carroll and a B.S. in engineering from UWP or UWM. Another option is to obtain a master’s degree in engineering at UWM.
“This NSF award will significantly enhance our 3+2 applied physics/engineering program, which provides a desired liberal arts background in engineering education,” said Dr. Joanne Passaro, Carroll provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “We look forward to the successful outcomes of this project.”
Elements of the initiative include mentoring, networking and organizational leadership training with STEM faculty, business faculty, and industry professionals for all students, and establishing a Women In Engineering developmental program. A Living and Learning Community for pre-engineering majors will provide students the option of cohorted living arrangements during their time at Carroll.
Dr. John Symms is chair of Carroll’s Computational and Physical Sciences Department and will be the STEP project director. He said, “The lynchpin of the proposal is to build the Carroll University Engineering Institute, a projects-based program that will give students of all backgrounds involvement at hands-on, team-based, problem-solving experiences. Waukesha-area businesses will supply real-world projects, and each year Carroll will host an engineering festival in which teams present project proposals.”
In addition to Carroll STEM majors, participating students can be non-science majors, undeclared majors and/or area high school students. “Our primary goal is to build interest in engineering as a career, enhancing Waukesha-grown and Waukesha-bound future engineers,” Symms said.