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IUPUI leading $4.8M project to increase STEM minority pipeline, impacting students statewide

Initiative to boost number of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, other underrepresented minorities in Indiana receiving baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics

This article originally appeared in the IUPUI Newsroom: iute.ch/2e2Qc8r

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar is leading a $4.8 million initiative to significantly increase the number of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and other historically underrepresented minorities in Indiana receiving baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The National Science Foundation awarded the grant to IUPUI as the lead institution of the Indiana STEM Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, which was formed to achieve that goal. Other alliance partners are IU Bloomington, Ball State University, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, which is the top provider of transfer students to IUPUI STEM-degree programs.

"We are grateful to the NSF for supporting this important program that will impact students at institutions across the state of Indiana," said Paydar, principal investigator on the NSF grant. "Creating opportunities to build the STEM educational pipeline will help strengthen the Indiana life sciences economy and contribute to our national and international competitiveness in this vital area."

Nasser H. Paydar

The alliance will implement an array of measures to double the number of STEM degrees awarded to minority students at alliance institutions from 295 in the baseline year 2013-14 to 590 in the fifth year of the initiative.

To achieve the 100 percent increase in the number of minority students earning STEM degrees, the alliance will apply three broad strategies:

  • Strengthen underrepresented minority students' academic preparation and disciplinary engagement.
  • Increase student retention and graduation.
  • Facilitate students' transition from community college to four-year institutions.

Those strategies will feature selected high-impact practices, including mathematics placement and online review support, summer bridge programs, freshman learning communities, peer-mentoring programs, degree mapping, faculty-mentored research, and an annual research conference.

The strategies target a key area that experts believe causes minority students, as well as others, to depart from STEM degree pathways: mathematics.

The alliance is committed to ensuring the minority STEM majors are assessed on their mathematical skills before enrollment and provided a structured, online math mentoring program.

The initiative is based on the National Science Foundation's Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program. The program provides funding to alliances that implement comprehensive, evidence-based, innovative and sustained strategies that ultimately result in the graduation of well-prepared, highly qualified students from underrepresented groups who pursue graduate studies or careers in STEM.

The grant's co-principal investigators are Kim Nguyen, Pamella Shaw and Stephen Hundley from IUPUI and Patricia Lang from Ball State University.

More information about the alliance is available online.