Central Texas 2-STEP project encourages students to explore STEM fields

Source: Killeen Daily Herald

By Rebecca LaFlure

Sep 29, 2009

Local college educators hope to give math and science enrollment a boost this fall through a $1.2 million grant from the federal government.

Tarleton State University, Texas A&M University-Central Texas and Temple College have teamed up this school year to create the Central Texas 2-STEP project. It's part of a national initiative to encourage Americans to pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math, or STEM, field.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project will focus on recruitment of high school students and transitioning military service members to receive an associate degree, and eventually move on to pursue a bachelor's degree, in one of the high-demand STEM fields.

The project will enhance Temple College's Bioscience Institute as well as create a greater cooperation between the participating colleges.

The Texas Bioscience Institute allows high school juniors and seniors from participating school districts, including Killeen ISD, to take classes for half a day at the TBI facility to earn dual high school and college credit. Through the institute, it is possible for a student to graduate from high school and receive a two-year college degree simultaneously.

The project would also boost recruitment efforts of recent veterans interested in pursuing a STEM career. The grant will fund a Friday seminar program that brings guest professionals to speak with TBI students each week about their career and current research. The grant will also place 20 TBI students or qualifying veterans in a research lab during the summer to work side-by-side with STEM professionals.

Additionally, the project hopes to ease the transition from an associate degree to a bachelor's by offering advanced courses at a community college that could easily transfer to a four-year or upper-level university. A math-readiness summer program will also be conducted for STEM students who may need extra support before they begin their university studies.