Photo courtesy EPCC
The University of Texas at El Paso is partnering with El Paso Community College to foster success for Hispanic and low-income students in the fields of science, technology, math and engineering (STEM).
Officials share that the effort will provide students with innovative and effective instruction, high-quality support resources, and a simplified mechanism for those looking to transfer from EPCC to UTEP.
The initiative is called STEMFUERTE, and it is supported by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Its focus is on undergraduates who have never attended college prior to their enrollment at UTEP or EPCC.
The STEMFUERTE program aims to address the root causes of the enduring underrepresentation of Hispanics in the STEM workforce. A
2021 study from the Pew Research Center found that while Hispanics make up 17 percent of total employees across all occupations in the U.S. economy, they represent only 8 percent of all STEM workers.
“This grant will help UTEP to improve pathways to science and engineering careers for underserved students,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. “Our partnership with El Paso Community College is strong. Working together, we will continue to smooth the transition to college and improve student success.”
“Together, EPCC and UTEP are committed to ensuring that students participate in higher education, are able to seamlessly transfer between our institutions, and can experience learning opportunities that will transform our region,” said William Serrata, EPCC President. “The STEMFUERTE partnership is another example of our ongoing commitment to serving students and preparing them for successful careers.”
The project includes mentoring and health support, summer skill-building and acculturation programs, advising, and support for students transferring from 2- to 4-year degree plans.
“We will help students from arrival through graduation with high-quality academic support and pioneering pedagogy,” said Peter Golding, Ph.D., professor of engineering education and leadership, who will serve as the grant’s principal investigator. “With its comprehensive approach, I’m confident STEMFUERTE will achieve the long-term goal of increasing the number of Hispanic and low-income students graduating with strong STEM credentials.”
Golding also said the STEMFUERTE program strongly aligns with UTEP’s mission as a comprehensive public research university to increase access to excellent higher education, advance discovery of public value, and positively impact the health, culture, education and economy of the Paso del Norte region.
One of the top priorities of the program is to guarantee a seamless transfer of EPCC students studying science, technology, engineering and math to UTEP’s engineering and science degrees. EPCC contributes 86% of the students who transfer to UTEP annually.
UTEP’s Ivonne Santiago, Ph.D., associate professor of civil engineering; Diane Golding, Ed.D, assistant professor of practice in teacher education and Yes SHE Can Program director; and Cole Joslyn, Ph.D., assistant professor of practice in engineering education and leadership, will serve as co-principal investigators in the project.