Colorado State University - Pueblo receives $4.3 million from DOE for STEM initiatives

Colorado State University - Pueblo receives $4.3 million from DOE for STEM initiatives

PUEBLO –   Colorado State University-Pueblo has earned a five-year, $4.3 million award from the Department of Education (DOE) for its PROPEL (Providing Opportunities to Excel) project to address the needs of Hispanic and low income students.

Coupled with the five-year, $2.8 million DOE grant announced last year, the University has earned $7.1 million in nationally competitive grants in the last year based on its designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution.  These two grants will substantially support undergraduate students (new grant) and graduate students.  Now in its second year, the latter grant created the RAGE (Regional Access to Graduate Education) Center on campus. 

Through the PROPEL grant, the University will improve its capacity to retain and support students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields through academic support services for STEM majors, sustainable systems service learning and undergraduate research in Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, and Civil Engineering Technology, a Summer Academic Forgiveness Education (SAFE) course recovery program, faculty development in sustainability, service learning, and instructional technologies; and articulation workshops with Pueblo Community College in order to develop a model articulation agreement.

Collaboratively through departments in the College of Science and Mathematics (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics) and the College of Education, Engineering, and Professional Studies (Engineering and Civil Engineering Technology), the University will seek to increase the number of STEM graduates. In addition, CSU-Pueblo will encourage more data-based decision-making to improve postsecondary student outcomes related to enrollment, persistence, and completion, leading to career success.

Since 2005, CSU-P has experienced a 53 percent increase in new freshmen, with 79 percent more Hispanic new freshmen and 90 percent more Hispanic freshmen entering STEM programs. Nearly half of CSU-Pueblo’s Hispanic students (46 percent) are first generation college students.

According to Dr. Mel Druelinger, grant principal investigator and dean of graduate studies, while STEM graduates are highly sought by employers, relatively few Hispanic and low-income students successfully pursue STEM degrees. In fact, most (81 percent) science and engineering professionals are Caucasian. While Hispanic representation in STEM fields grew 89 percent between 1997 and 2003, they still make up only 4 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the National Science Foundation.

Druelinger said Hispanic and low-income students disproportionately begin their higher education at less expensive community colleges, which typically have fewer resources to provide support and critical academic opportunities in STEM fields.

“CSU-Pueblo has identified institutional gaps and potentially missed opportunities in existing curricula, student support services, infrastructure, and faculty development that can be addressed to successfully meet the identified needs of students,” Druelinger said.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.