Nearly $2 million from NSF to support UH engineering student recruitment effort

December 18, 2003

HOUSTON, Dec. 18, 2003 - Grants totaling nearly $2 million - designed to retain and recruit engineering students and expose high school teachers to research - were received this month by the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grants are a part of the foundation's efforts to boost national graduation rates in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), said Stuart Long, associate dean for educational activities at UH.

"On a national average only two out of every 100 high school graduates go on to complete a college engineering degree," said Raymond Flumerfelt, dean of the College of Engineering. "The NSF grants represent the latest step in our efforts to enhance our engineering curriculum and increase the pool of prospective students."

A five-year, $1.5 million NSF grant will fund STEP - AHEAD (Access to Higher Education through Academic Retention and Development) at the University of Houston, which will spawn an assortment of programs that feature highly interactive and collaborative learning methods.

The grant builds upon previous success within the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering that laid the groundwork with its Redshirt Camps and workshops. These programs encourage students to teach each other while instructors facilitate the learning process. Also, GRADE Camp (Girls Reaching and Demonstrating Excellence in Engineering), which garnered much popularity with its summer 2003 attendees, their teachers and parents, will continue to introduce high school females to the excitement of studying engineering.

A second proposal that received funding from NSF, the Research Experience for Greater Houston Science and Math Teachers (RET), is a $435,000 summer program designed to infuse 12 teachers with enthusiasm toward research that is subsequently shared with their respective high school classes during the school year. Participants will make important contributions to the department's ongoing research efforts.

"With the additional NSF grant, we also will develop a program for high school teachers to broaden their knowledge of research and engineering. Key to our success and our profession's future success will be our ability to excite students about engineering as a field of study and career," said Flumerfelt.

Long is the principal investigator for the STEP project; Fritz Claydon, chair of the department of electrical and computer engineering, is principal investigator for the RET project. Long and Claydon - along with Program Director Jenny Ruchhoeft, who manages both programs - are working with a number of faculty members in the college to fully implement these newly funded programs.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the Cullen College of Engineering
UH Cullen College of Engineering has produced five U.S. astronauts, 10 members of the National Academy of Engineering and degree programs that have ranked in the top 10 nationally. With more than 2,200 students, the college offers accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, industrial, and mechanical engineering. It also offers specialized programs in aerospace, biomedical, distribution and logistics, materials, petroleum engineering and telecommunications.

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