Gannon University Receives Nearly $1 Million Grant for STEM Program

Posted: December 6, 2016

Gannon University's Scholars of Excellence in Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS) scholarship program has received a $999,885 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program to support students' academic growth for a four-year period (2017-2021).

The scholarship will be used to support 25 academically promising students per year in one of the eight majors in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. This is the third time Gannon has received a NSF S-STEM grant, and adds to the previous total of $1.2 million, but the current grant is the largest sum to date to be awarded to the SEECS program.

The SEECS program has been designed to achieve the following four project goals: 1) increase the number of low-income, academically talented students, especially women and students from Gannon University's community partners, the Erie School District and the GO College program, enrolling in and graduating from Gannon's engineering and computer science programs; 2) assist students using a program of scholarships and rigorous academic support; 3) foster professional development to prepare students for careers in STEM fields and graduate education; and 4) study the impact of targeted interventions on retention of high academic performing students.

Along with funding scholarships, the grant will support students' travel for conferences, extra study materials, testing fees and community-building activities, and will provide funds to Gannon's STEM-PASS program, a tutoring service for STEM students provided by the University. In addition to financial aid, the program provides substantial real-world experience, allowing students to see community needs and use their growing engineering expertise to alleviate some of those needs.

"The design, development and deployment of the SEECS program embodies the aspirations of the faculty team for the ideal learning and growth of an engaged and motivated professional," said Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean of the College of Engineering and Business. "What was envisioned by the SEECS team as a highly desirable way to live-developing one's skills for personal growth as well as serving one's world for its benefit-has been confirmed by the repeated NSF awarding."

The program has aided approximately 80 recipients and has sent 30 students to regional, local and national conferences. "Through the benefit of the grant's funding, those 80 students have earned a professional degree from Gannon," Vernaza said. "Without the grant, these students would not be the alumni, leaders and professionals they are today."