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2016 November 7 - 10:38 am

Bergen CC Lands $5.3 Million Stem Grant

Funds Will Support Hispanic, Low-Income Students in STEM Fields

Recognizing Bergen Community College’s commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, the federal government has awarded the institution a five-year, $5.3 million grant to prepare 2,500 students for graduation and careers. The “STEMatics” initiative builds on a 2011 $3.8 million U.S. Department of Education grant that funded the five-year “Graduation Pathway to Success Project” at Bergen, which raised STEM enrollment by 67 percent.

“STEM remains a critical focus area for the U.S. economy,” Bergen President B. Kaye Walter, “Bergen has taken a leadership role in STEM, fostering an environment conducive to intense teaching and learning — including supporting student, faculty and staff research, and special projects. This grant recognizes Bergen’s work and will provide further opportunities for students to learn in these evolving fields.”

The grant will serve all of Bergen’s STEM students and provide particular support for first-time, fulltime degree seeking Hispanic, lowincome and at-risk students, cohorts who have faced barriers to entering STEM fields. Bergen will seek to reverse these trends by boosting academic performance through increased faculty intervention, handson experiences and industry interaction. The grant will also include a research and assessment of the students’ progress, which will be reported to the federal government.

Partners for internships and employment include Triangle Manufacturing, Stryker, UPS, Orange & Rockland Utilities and PSE&G.

The college will also partner with baccalaureate institutions to streamline the path to a four-year degree.

Ultimately, Bergen officials believe the grant will provide the means for creating a series of best practices that will improve outcomes for STEM students.

Not only does the federal government estimate U.S. employers will add nine million STEM jobs by 2022, but a recent study by online salary database PayScale found that seven of the top 10 highest paying careers for associate degree graduates are in STEM fields. With average annual earnings of $65,600, Bergen graduates ranked No. 11 in the U.S. for mid-career salaries in the same research.

Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration granted Bergen clearance to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) on campus, making it one of only three community colleges to receive such an exemption from the federal government. The exemption will allow the College to enter the U.S. National Airspace System and offer educational programs featuring the operation of the popular technology.

Additional STEM projects at Bergen have included converting a softball field house into a workshop and conducting experimental testing with two wind turbines and a solar panel system.

Students also completed a space odyssey this summer, launching a high altitude balloon to photograph images of the Earth at approximately 96,000 feet.

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