WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján announced that New Mexico Highlands University will receive $248,472 to improve science and engineering education programs, and increase the retention and graduation rates for underrepresented minority students, particularly women. The grant was awarded through the Department of Education's Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program, which assists predominantly minority institutions to make improvements in science and engineering education programs that will encourage underrepresented minority students to pursue science and engineering careers. The awarded funding will support New Mexico Highlands University's Implementing Best Practices project, and it is anticipated that the grant will be renewed next year and the following year, for a total funding award of $745,416.
"A background in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is critical for many 21st century careers, and I'm pleased to support this funding to help New Mexico Highlands University strengthen its STEM programs and create a pipeline for women and other underrepresented students into well-paying jobs," Udall said. "As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I'll continue to push for investments in STEM education and programs that help build a robust, diverse science and tech workforce and drive economic development in New Mexico."
"It's critical that students from all backgrounds see the opportunities the STEM fields have to offer," said Heinrich. "New Mexico has immense talent, and this grant will help New Mexico Highlands University strengthen the STEM pipeline by focusing on graduation and retention. I am proud to support this funding and cosponsor legislation to increase the number of women and minorities entering the STEM fields. By helping prepare students for New Mexico's lucrative high-tech job industry we can continue to create pathways toward a more diverse future generation of innovators."
"I am pleased Highlands University is receiving this important source of funding for its efforts to prepare students for careers in science and engineering," Luján said. "In this 21st century economy, degrees in these fields will open the doors of opportunity, and it is essential that we encourage students to compete in sectors that provide good jobs and that are in high demand. It is also important that we increase diversity in STEM, and these federal funds will help ensure that these fields better reflect the great diversity of New Mexico and our nation."
Specifically, New Mexico Highlands University's Implementing Best Practices project seeks to transform the university's STEM programs and increase underrepresented students' graduation and retention rates through several measures. First, the project supports the creation of a cross-disciplinary strategic planning team to continuously review and support strategies to improve the university's STEM programs. Second, it seeks to increase the number of students graduating with STEM degrees by providing specialized training to supplemental instruction leaders, math tutors, graduate teaching assistants and STEM faculty. Finally, the project will help enhance the university's ability to support STEM students by expanding services at the Achieving in Research Math and Science Center, which provides comprehensive services to the university's STEM students.