Kentucky State University received a three-year, $500,000 institutional grant from the National Science Foundation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities program to promote the participation of minority students in the university’s STEM undergraduate degree programs. This project, which is a collaboration between KSU’s STEM program units and the College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems, aims to produce a competitive minority workforce in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math. ?It will directly impact 250 Kentucky State University STEM students and 60 precollege or high school students over three years.

This project will produce a competitive minority workforce in the STEM fields by designing, implementing and strengthening innovative teaching, learning, research, recruitment, retention and professional development strategies at KSU. The objectives of this STEM grant include increasing KSU’s enrollment of students into its STEM programs – biology, computer science, mathematics, physics and environmental studies; developing experiential research projects to enhance student opportunities in a broad range of scientific inquiry; enhancing STEM curricula so that courses meet the highest possible standards and address the diverse backgrounds and learning capacities of minority students; and developing student retention, faculty teaching and research enhancement programs.

These goals and objectives will help integrate KSU’s mission of providing competitive educational opportunities in STEM and liberal arts programs through teaching, research and public service.

Implementation and Results

Through a collective, campus-wide effort by faculty, staff and administrators, this grant will foster a competitive learning and research environment. It will also develop new project- and inquiry-based curricula and programs that will provide continuous academic support and engage learning environments for minority students. Twenty participating faculty members from various STEM program units will engage these students in cutting-edge research, technology and innovative pedagogy with an emphasis on learning science through multidisciplinary activities outside of the formal classroom setting through cyber infrastructure- and visualization-based participatory learning modules.

At the completion of the three-year grant, KSU’s STEM program will have produced a diverse pool of students for graduate STEM programs and strengthened institutional links to high schools, federal and state agencies, other land-grant institutions and private companies. Program leaders anticipate a 25 percent increase in the number of minority students graduating with a STEM degree, a reduction of 10 percent in attrition in entry-level courses and a 30 percent increase in minority students’ participation in problem-solving and inquiry-based STEM research.

Dr. Buddhi R. Gyawali, an assistant professor of geospatial applications, submitted the successful grant proposal.