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CCU's Gupta College of Science awarded National Science Foundation grant for project aimed at improving the success of low-income engineering students

October 11, 2023

Coastal Carolina University's Gupta College of Science was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project titled “Coaching and Retention for Engineering Students: Improving Low-Income Student Success in Engineering with Innovative Mentoring and Early Internship Experiences.”

The $965,105 grant will help contribute to the national need for well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need at CCU. During the six-year duration, this project will fund scholarships for 11 full-time students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in engineering science. The initiative aims to increase student persistence and degree attainment in engineering by linking scholarships with effective supporting activities including summer bridge courses, mentoring, and early professional engineering experiences. Scholars will receive job site mentoring from practicing engineers through internship experiences with industry partners.

“I’m thrilled about our obtaining this funding and what it will mean for our engineering students,” said Wes Hitt, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Engineering Science. “Nearly $600,000 of the award will go directly to students, in the form of scholarships, to meet their unmet financial needs. Our program fills a strong demand for quality engineering education in the Horry County, Grand Strand, and surrounding region, and this project promises to open doors to the engineering profession for those aspiring and talented students who need it the most. We’re deeply thankful to the NSF for its support in our educational mission.”

Chad Leverette, Ph.D., dean of CCU’s Gupta College of Science, said: “I am extremely proud of our faculty for obtaining this funding from the NSF. It is the top organization that funds innovation in STEM education and research throughout the country. In particular, the NSF S-STEM program that funded our proposal is the premier program that supports innovative approaches that increase student success in STEM disciplines. This award will help our engineering students be even more successful with their studies while also preparing them for fulfilling careers in engineering.”

This project is funded by NSF’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program, which seeks to increase the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields. It also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic/career pathways of low-income students.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 2325921. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Interested persons can apply for the scholarship here.