By Alexis Clark
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University’s College of Engineering is committed to fostering a community of budding first year engineer students and has received a monetary boost to continue this endeavor. This year the college has been awarded a $2.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will go into effect fall 2023.
The grant will create a five-year pilot engineering curriculum that includes a pre-engineering program and an immersive engineering studio based on course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), focusing on retention and graduation at Tennessee State University.
TSU alumnus Malik City, who earned his engineering degree from the university in 2020, says that the rigorous TSU program played a pivotal role in his current success within his company.
City, is a software development engineer for Amazon.
“When I look back, I don’t have any regrets. I have been fortunate to be in this field that has changed the lives of myself and my family,” he said. “The same courses that may discourage first year students are the same courses that many successful engineers had challenges with. The first year student grant is huge because the extra support is needed.”
A STEM Enhancement Institute will also be established this fall as part of the grant to provide support to students who struggle with their STEM courses in their pre-engineering program. $150,000 per year will go towards the STEM institute.
College of Engineering Interim Dean, Professor Lin Li, who is the principal investigator of the grant, said the grant will support more than 80 students a year. “For year one students, we want to prepare them with stronger math and physics,” Li said. “So we proposed a pre-engineering program. This way, we help the students so they can move on to their second year for their engineering career.”
The overall goal is to enhance the retention and success of students in engineering programs at TSU through innovative practices and interdisciplinary research.
College of Engineering Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies Catherine Armwood-Gordon, Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Charles McCurry, and Dean of the College of Life and Physical Sciences Nolan McMurray are co-principal investigators for the grant.
Armwood-Gordon echoed the efforts of the grant in helping the university better understand the needs of freshmen engineering students. “It allows us to better understand what our retention rates are for the incoming freshmen that are not taking calculus one, to getting them through calculus one and retaining them to graduation.”
Dean McMurray emphasized that the program’s significant grant will propel the university to the forefront of HBCU engineering programs.
“This award will go a long way in preparing our students at TSU to become stronger engineering students,” he said.
This is the third time the National Science foundation has provided the Implementation Project grant: Enhancement of CUREs-based Curriculum and Immersive Engineering Studio to Enhance Engineering Education and Retention of Underrepresented Engineers, to the university.
According to Li, the first two previous awarded grants were approximately $1 million each. He also noted that the college of engineering is grateful for the additional funds this year as the project aims to create a pipeline of trained undergraduate students with various engineering analysis and design skills aimed at the retention of students in the undergraduate program.
To learn more about TSU’s engineering programs, visit www.tnstate.edu/engineering/.