Kentucky State University has a new program that prepares future college students for study in the STEM areas – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The 2015 Summer Apprenticeship Program hosts 30 minority rising juniors interested in STEM careers. The three-week residential program, which runs June 7 – 27, 2015, introduces the high school students to undergraduate-level STEM programs and helps them gain experience in college-level research. The program is funded for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The apprenticeship program will also help KSU recruit students to its STEM programs and retain students once they are enrolled, according to Dr. Buddhi Gyawali, assistant professor of geographic information systems in the College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems.

The apprenticeship program is designed to benefit the participants in several ways. It will assist them with:

  • An easier transition from high school to college
  • Early access to college credit and coursework
  • Opportunities for STEM-related research experiences
  • Increased interaction with undergraduate students and faculty
  • Paid and sustained undergraduate research experience
  • Exposure to career opportunities

Students will take courses, participate in research and visit STEM work places, said Gyawali, who also coordinates the apprenticeship program and wrote the three successful grant proposals to fund the program. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The three-week summer program is responding to the nation’s need, as identified by the NSF and USDA, for more minorities working in the STEM areas. According to the project summary, the goal is “to produce a competitive minority workforce in the STEM fields by designing, implementing and strengthening innovative teaching, learning, research, recruitment, retention and professional development strategies.”

KSU’s goal is also to develop partnerships and collaborations with high schools, private companies and government agencies to strengthen recruitment, internship and cooperative education in the STEM areas.

Gyawali expects about 60 percent of the 30 students participating in the program each summer will make KSU their college of choice.

He said, “Our focus is to reach out to students from rural high schools in underserved communities. These are the students who don’t know much about KSU and its STEM programs. We want to partner with these high schools.”