Armed with a $1.5 million grand from the National Science Foundation, UTSA will lead the way toward insuring that more Latino and other Minority students graduate in the fast growing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
UTSA already awards 52% of its 1,-45 bachelors degrees in STEM fields each year to Minority students, mainly Hispanics.
The grant will be used to help develop new methods to interest Hispanic students in STEM, and, mainly, to make sure Latino students who enter as freshmen intending to major in STEM fields will remain on that track through graduation.
The Texas Workforce Commission estimates that Texas alone will need 60,000 new scientists and engineers in the coming decade, and UTSA Provost Kimberly Andrews Espy says that means the university will have to double the number of Hispanic students it graduates in STEM fields.
“At UTSA, we know that there is certain coursework in our STEM curriculum that is especially challenging for many of our students. By addressing this and teaching the curriculum in a new way, we can maintain the rigor of our STEM degree programs while improving retention and graduation rates," she said.
The state's Hispanic population is on track to exceed the Anglo population in the coming years, so Hispanic STEM grads will be essential to meeting the Workforce Commission's goals, and making sure Texas is fully prepared to continue to attract the jobs of the future.
Dr. Espy says another concern is to make sure the graduates are prepared to work in STEM professions. She says even though many students enroll in STEM classes, only 55% of U.S. students who start out in STEM will eventually graduate in that field.She says part of the goal is to increase that number.