The demand for skilled technicians in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields has reached a critical level. With an $868,105 grant from the National Science Foundation, Palm Beach State College plans to do something about it.
PBSC’s InnovATE project aims to awaken student interest in STEM fields and expose them to a continuum of outreach, education and support that leads to satisfying, high-demand careers. The three-year grant will enhance targeted degree programs, as well as deploy robust initiatives that promote STEM careers to selected middle and high school students who attend Title I schools in the School District of Palm Beach County, all with the goal of increasing the number of PBSC graduates in STEM disciplines, particularly underrepresented minorities and women.
Current graduates of PBSC’s Electrical Power Technology program are rapidly finding employment. However, many more graduates are needed to fill the demand.
In response, the college is planning to offer a new degree in engineering technology, with a grant-supported option for accelerated completion, starting in the fall term.
While increasing STEM awareness in designated Palm Beach County middle and high schools, the InnovATE project will provide students enrolled in PBSC’s Electrical Power Technology and Engineering Technology programs with intensive academic support, including customized mathematics laboratories. In addition, higher education pathways will be developed, enabling PBSC students to go from these associate degree programs into STEM-related bachelor’s degree programs offered by Florida institutions.
“This is a significant award, and the reviewers agreed that it has the potential to be transformative,” said Dr. Jay Matteson, principal investigator for the grant and director of PBSC’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Sustainability. “The InnovATE project will provide a platform for collaboration at all levels.”
One of InnovATE’s collaborations will be the creation of the BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) summer program for high school students to stimulate interest in STEM and improve college readiness.