MCCC receives $87K grant from National Science Foundation to advance engineers and technicians program

The National Science Foundation awarded Mercer County Community College $87,479 to develop and host a program called Transforming Engineering Access for Mercer Students, or TEAMS. TEAMS will foster collaboration between three target groups: high schools, colleges and universities, and the engineering industry. This will be facilitated largely through four conferences, college engineering tours, engineering project field trips and a presentation of findings at a national engineering conference.

The project principal investigators are James Maccariella, Terry Voldase and Laura Sosa.

“TEAMS will broaden participation in engineering, especially among underrepresented individuals, by establishing mentoring opportunities, increasing student engagement and motivation and by creating a partnership with engineering stakeholders,” Maccariella said. “Our aim is to identify barriers to the engineering profession for those who are traditionally underserved and promote participation among an array of student and industry stakeholders.”

The four conferences will each focus on a specific segment of Mercer County’s student and engineering communities:

  • The first is for high school students, parents and teachers to introduce attendees to engineering disciplines, work environments and competencies as well as information on career planning.
  • The second, for area engineering colleges and universities, will discuss graduation rates, student readiness and development, and institutional intervention trends such as collaborative learning, peer reviews and project led education.
  • A third conference will target the engineering industry and cover desired employee skills, communication, collaboration and leadership, as well as reported gaps between academic study and real-world workplace practices.
  • A fourth conference, open to all groups, will consolidate the findings from the prior three conferences to create summaries on engineering college readiness, employee skills and establish mentoring opportunities. It will also aim to increase student engagement and motivation along with partnerships with industry stakeholders.

MCCC’s previous National Science Foundation-funded project, S-STEM, increased the retention, graduation and transfer rates of 98 low-income diverse STEM students. In keeping with MCCC’s strategic plan, which is designed to ensure student success, expand innovative partnerships and invest in organizational and professional effectiveness, the faculty and administration submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation to fund its TEAMS project.

“Increasing the number of undergraduate students who earn degrees in engineering and technology will create a future workforce prepared to support a healthy economy,” MCCC President Deborah Preston said. “Training a new generation of engineers in the U.S. is paramount, and, among the Top 35% of community colleges nationally, MCCC’s STEM programs position us to play a leading role in further developing New Jersey’s next generation of engineers and technicians.”

The first two conferences will be scheduled for the fall semester at the Conference Center on MCCC’s West Windsor campus. The third and fourth conferences will be held in the spring semester.