SPARK STEM Institute aims to encourage and support student success – US Black Engineer


Auburn University recently announced that one of its programs is building on a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation obtained last August to conduct a research effort that promotes science education, of technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) among students from underrepresented and underserved populations.

According Auburn Universitythe Institute for Strengthening Pathways and Research Knowledge (SPARK) in STEM, or the SPARK STEM Institute, aims to engage teachers and professors, social scientists, elementary and secondary education administrators, and the community in His efforts.

This engagement will be designed to evaluate innovative research-based models to improve the academic and social experiences of students to attract, retain, and graduate historically underrepresented and underserved populations in STEM disciplines.

Overtoun Jenda, assistant provost for special projects and initiatives at Auburn, whose office will administer the initiative, told Auburn University that the institute’s programs include African Americans, Alaska Native , Hispanics, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, people with disabilities, people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, women and girls.

The SPARK STEM Institute will award scholarships, stipends and internships to participating students, Jenda explained. “However, our primary effort is to provide mentorship and guidance to encourage and support student success,” Jenda said. More than 60 affiliated institutions collaborate with the institute on various initiatives.

“This major award from the National Science Foundation and the creation of the SPARK STEM Institute will enable Auburn and collaborating institutions to foster a more diverse workforce while improving educational opportunities for students with disabilities,” said James Weyhenmeyer, Auburn’s vice president for research and economics. development, in the press release.

The SPARK STEM Institute consists of two STEM Centers: namely, the SPARK STEM Center for Persons with Disabilities and the SPARK STEM Center for Underrepresented Minorities and Underserved Populations. The two informal centers will share the same objectives but will have two distinct areas of intervention and initiatives.

The institute is administered by the Office of Special Projects and Initiatives and governed by a board of deans and directors. Each center has its own specialist advisory board.

A joint conference for two SPARK STEM Institute programs, the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Involvement in the Greater Alabama Black Belt Area and Making to Advance Knowledge, Excellence, and Recognition in STEM (MAKERS), was held on April 23 at the Auburn University Hotel and the Dixon Center conference. The institute has planned a multi-day symposium involving representatives from each of the participating SPARK STEM Institute institutions for this fall in Auburn.

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