National Science Foundation Grant Funds STEM Initiative at Fontbonne
Fontbonne University been awarded a $624,318 grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding will support Mentoring and Engaging Technology Students - Successfully, or METS-S, a program of recruitment activities and supports to prepare students for the high-demand fields of computer science, cyber security and bioinformatics.
ST. LOUIS, April 1, 2016 (Newswire.com) - The National Science Foundation announced Wednesday that it has awarded Fontbonne University a five-year grant in the amount of $625,318 throughout the period of June 1, 2016 – May 31, 2021. The grant will fund a new program geared to recruit and support low-income, academically talented students for the fields of computer science, cyber security and bioinformatics.
The funding will assist in implementing Fontbonne’s Mentoring and Engaging Technology Students – Successfully program, known as METS-S, designed to support talented undergraduate students who struggle with the affordability of higher education, while readying them for post-graduate careers. Goals of the METS-S program include enrollment and program growth, improved retention and graduation rates, internship and career placement, and expanded community outreach and collaboration. The grant will assist Fontbonne’s math and computer science department, located in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, in supporting eligible students and contributing to the St. Louis workforce, as well as growing three academic programs: computer science, cyber security and bioinformatics.
“METS-S is unique in that we will not simply teach content to these students — we’ll offer programming that helps them navigate the academic world and achieve success in college and in their careers,” said Mary Abkemeier, Ph.D., professor and chair for the department of mathematics and computer science.METS-S is unique in that we will not simply teach content to these students — we'll offer programming that helps them navigate the academic world and achieve success in college and in their careers
Additional METS-S program elements include a summer orientation that focuses not on content but on how to learn mathematics, and a seminar series on IT project management to teach students how to participate on workplace project teams. The program will also offer real-world internship and research opportunities to connect academia and the workplace. Full-time faculty, including Abkemeier, Yi Yang, Ph.D., Guanyu Tian, Ph.D., and Samantha Warren, Ph.D., all assistant professors in the department of math and computer science, will support and advise METS-S students.
The grant will support Fontbonne students in two program groups, set to graduate one year apart. Each student, majoring in computer science, cyber security or bioinformatics, will receive scholarships ranging from $6,000 to $10,000. The grant was designed to serve the undergraduate students of Fontbonne, with half the award monies allocated to scholarships.
Fontbonne’s computer science, cyber security and bioinformatics programs were all developed in response to local workforce needs. St. Louis experienced a 95 percent growth in cyber security jobs between 2010 and 2014, and expected job growth for employees in the bioinformatics category is predicted to be 31 percent through 2020. Employers in St. Louis will be able to hire METS-S program graduates who are prepared to enter careers or graduate school in these high-demand fields.
Fontbonne has a total enrollment of 1,713 undergraduate students, including 1,213 undergraduates.
Fontbonne University is a Catholic coeducational institution of higher education offering liberal arts and professional programs, as well as evening and online formats for busy adults. Fontbonne was founded in 1923 and is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. For more information, visit www.fontbonne.edu.