SOE received National Science Foundation grant for student retention

September 15, 2020

nsf canavan
Professor Heather Canavan, co-PI on the grant, giving a demonstration to prospective high school students at the SOE Open House in September 2019.
A research team in the School of Engineering at The University of New Mexico has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project to uncover new ways to promote academic success and retention among engineering and computer science students.

“Scholarships, Service Learning, and Community Engagement to Improve Student Success in Engineering and Computer Science” is a five-year project that begins January 1, 2021, and totals nearly $1 million.

Heather Canavan, Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor, is one of several SOE CoPI's on the grant. According to Canavan, each CoPI is in charge of a learning community (group of students) within SOE. We meet with the students multiple times each year, and give them information about what resources are on campus, how (and why) to get involved with research, etc. Through ESS, they also have sessions on job interview techniques, resume building, etc. If the students successfully complete all of their milestones, they have the opportunity to do an internship (either at UNM with a professor, or outside with a company or government facility).

Canavan mentions one of the things that she likes about this program is that the program is focused on entering students who come from backgrounds that are underrepresented in STEM. The scholarship funding is tied to their financial need, but we are also considering whether they are first-generation college goers, students who come from rural backgrounds, people with disabilities, and other groups that are traditionally under-represented in STEM.  Through this training and support, the students should be able to focus on their studies, and gain the skills they need to find a great, high-paying job in engineering when they graduate. Also, by partnering with industry, national labs, and other agencies, we build a pipeline from UNM to those entities, providing them with skilled applicants that represent our State and Nation.

Also, while this is a new grant that was awarded, this team has worked together on similar programs to support undergraduates in SOE for at least 10 years through other mechanisms.

Canavan and her group recently received a Grand Challenge award for their COVID project, #ScrubHubABQ Project. The team ScrubHub ABQ came up with a rapid response solution to fabricate and transport 3D printed protective equipment and sanitizer produced by local breweries. To learn more about ScrubHub ABQ click here