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UA leads effort to increase minority participation in 'STEM' fields with $5 million grant

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The need for employees in science, engineering and math fields is rising nationwide.

The University of Alabama is joining with other education leaders in the state to increase the number of under-represented minority groups in those fields.

The University of Alabama received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The goal is to make sure all minority groups are well represented in the science, technology, engineering and math, or ‘STEM’, fields.

“It’s really a systemic attempt to change how we're educating students in the STEM fields,” Dr. Kevin Whitaker, UA Interim Provost, said.

Schools, two year colleges and universities from across the state are partnering with the University of Alabama to implement the Alabama Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program.

“This program is seeking to have folks that perhaps never thought about seeking STEM fields, to get involved in STEM fields, then what this does, it wraps our arms, so to speak, around them to make sure they enter, they are successful in the program and they go out and make an impact on the state,” Whitaker said.

The grant will provide opportunities like outreach activities for students that promote STEM fields and allow students to participate in research.

“It's the engine that drives a lot of innovation in the state. If you look at the manufacturing companies that have come to the state in the last 20 years, they're very very interested in folks that have STEM backgrounds,” Whitaker said.

“There's a lot of broad fields that these careers can map to in the STEM fields, so how students can see themselves in that position and begin preparing themselves in high school for taking the right classes, to make sure that when they go to their university of choice that they're then able to move into one of those careers and study that,” said UA President, Dr. Stuart Bell, said.3

The grant will provide $1 million annually over the course of five years

It will be distributed among the partnering schools and be used for student support.

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