Jun 28, 2023 By Leslie Reed | University Communication and Marketing
An innovative Nebraska program to assist more low-income students into STEM careers was featured as a student success story by Inside Higher Ed, the national higher education online news source.
STEM CONNECT was launched in 2019 through a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Jim Lewis, Douglas Professor of Mathematics at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln served as the project’s principal investigator.
In Nebraska, about 22% of all occupations are STEM-related, with those jobs growing at a faster rate than non-STEM jobs. Three-fourths of those jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree.
“Lots of students with ability fall between the cracks because they can’t afford college or they work 25 to 30 hours a week,” Lewis told Inside Higher Ed.
The program was developed in partnership with Southeast Community College and Western Community College. Students can attend two years at any of the three institutions before transferring to the university to complete a four-year degree.
Currently, 39 students are enrolled at the university, with another 22 attending community colleges. They receive scholarships of up to $8,000 per year, plus programming for community support, professional development and academic success.
STEM CONNECT stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Career Opportunities in Nebraska: Networks, Experiential learning and Computational Thinking. With the grant funding anticipated to conclude in 2024 or 2025, first-year students are not being recruited at this time, with attention now focused on community college-transfer students.