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May 13, 2009 > Cal State East Bay gets grants

Cal State East Bay gets grants

Submitted By Barry Zepel

Assisted by three major grants, Cal State East Bay is increasing its commitment to advancing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Two grants from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation will help ease the way for engineering students and students who want to become mathematics and science teachers to transfer from community colleges to CSUEB.

A $100,000 planning grant is for researching and developing programs to support and improve science and math education in K-12 schools and universities. The grant comes from Living Cities, an East Coast consortium of major corporations and foundations, partnering with the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and "Strive Together," a program at the University of Cincinnati.

"We have identified the STEM disciplines as key priorities for the university in the future," said CSUEB President Mohammad Qayoumi. "This is particularly important work for Cal State East Bay, which is becoming a major regional resource as a hub for science, technology, engineering and math education."

Programs known as the Bechtel Transfer Project for Engineering and the Bechtel Transfer Project for Math and Science Education will standardize classes that students take at area community colleges while making sure that their lower division coursework meets requirements for admittance to Cal State East Bay. Emphasis also will go toward identifying prospective engineers and math and science teachers early in their college careers.

"The future economic and social vibrancy of our region depends on an increasingly well-educated and technologically skilled workforce," Qayoumi said. "Innovative, well-prepared teachers are the key to developing that workforce through the region's educational systems, and our partnership with the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation will help us address the critical need for engineers and math and science educators."

Working to close the gap, Cal State East Bay increasingly has focused on STEM education, tripling the number of new math and science teachers graduating from the University in recent years. In 2007, for instance, CSUEB prepared 122 math and science teachers, up from 36 in 2003.

By 2014, science and engineering occupations in the United States are expected to grow by 21 percent, compared with 13 percent in all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. California alone is projected to need more than 33,000 new math and science teachers in the next 10 years.

CSUEB applied last summer to be one of the anchor institutions for the P-20 Education and Workforce Partnership initiative and was one of only four universities selected nationwide following a months-long intensive review process. With this funding, the university will work with regional partners in education and industry to explore new data-driven approaches for student success at all grade levels and integrate them with existing programs.

Rhea Williamson, associate vice president for research and sponsored programs, said CSUEB's research will likely focus on three points in the educational pathway, involving science career awareness in middle school, seventh and eighth grade algebra, and the transition from high school to college-level science and math. Each point represents a critical stage in students' subsequent academic success in these subjects in high school, college and careers in STEM fields, she said.

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