Baylor Receives NSF Grant To Offer More Scholarships

Oct. 18, 2006

by Frank Raczkiewicz

Baylor University has received a nearly half-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide as many as 40 scholarships to transfer students from regional community colleges and partner institutions who wish to continue their education in engineering or computer science at Baylor.

"These scholarships will provide money to transfer students who have a financial need," said Dr. Steven Eisenbarth, the grant's principal investigator and the associate dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Baylor. "Many students who start at a community college don't continue their education because of the financial burden of four-year institutions, so this will help level the playing field."

The grant will expand and enhance a current professional partnership between Baylor faculty in the School of Engineering and Computer Science and their colleagues at regional community colleges and partner institutions. That partnership aims to increase the flow of students into engineering and computer science programs, regardless of the school the student chooses.

The grant also could significantly increase the number of transfer students to Baylor's School of Engineering and Computer Science. Currently, there are fewer than a dozen transfer students. The number could grow to more than 30 by next year.

"We are not graduating enough engineers and computer scientists in this country, and we need to try to recruit more students into these fields," said Dr. Carolyn Skurla, co-principal investigator and an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Baylor. "Many of our minority students who are first-generation college students are forced by economic concerns to enroll in community colleges. By providing scholarships to make Baylor more affordable, we hope it will be a way to increase the number and diversity of engineering students here."

The $498,756 NSF grant comes on the heels of two other grants from the Texas Engineering and Technical Consortium (TETC) and the Texas Workforce Commission. The first grant funded programs to enhance the retention rate of engineering students and the second funded the development of distance-learning web-based freshman engineering courses, which are being beta-tested this semester by five students at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton. Eisenbarth said these programs provided a significant base on which the NSF grant can build.

"Those programs made us much more competitive to get this latest grant and all of them will ultimately benefit the students," Eisenbarth said.

Students will be able to apply for the scholarships in the next few months. The scholarships will be available beginning next fall.

For more information, contact Dr. Eisenbarth at (254) 710-6834.

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