PCC wins $2 million for tech and manufacturing programs
Science programs at Portland Community College are about to be more accessible to women and minorities.
PCC won $2 million from the National Science Foundation's Scholarships Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program.
PCC was awarded $879,337 for its program Mentoring in Manufacturing Technology (MeMT), and an additional $997,253 for its project Realizing Engineering Technology Achievement (RETA) at two of its campuses.
It's unusual for the NSF to grant two of these to the same college.
Dorina Cornea-Hasegan will run the MeMT project, and serve as the coordinator of the new Rock Creek Campus Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics lab.
"When it was announced, I was thrilled for our students," said Cornea-Hasegan. "Not many of these proposals get funded across the nation, so PCC really won the lottery twice in 2016."
The grant targets women and minorities, helping PCC increase access to the sciences for underrepresented and low-income students.
Plans for engineering tech
At the Sylvania Campus, located at 12000 S.W. 49th Ave., the RETA project focuses on electronic engineering tech, civil and mechanical engineering tech and machine manufacturing tech students.
Both campuses' funds will supply scholarships, intensive advising, mentorship from industry personnel and alumni, and create guided pathways to degrees in these fields. The grants aim to boost the number of qualified workers and improve workforce diversity in these industries.
Tara Nelson is the RETA project lead and chair of the Sylvania campus civil and mechanical engineering tech program.
"We'll implement some best practices in these programs and share with faculty on ways to support women and students of color," said Nelson. "There will be training for faculty, an improvement in our marketing material and website, increased tutoring and development of hands-on activities in the classroom."
Nelson's program began last September and will award one-year scholarships to 104 students, and as additional one-year scholarship to six graduates who enroll at the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT).
Manufacturing tech program plans
At the Rock Creek campus, located at 17705 N.W. Springville Rd., the MeMT project is targeting students interested in the areas of microelectronics, solar voltaic manufacturing and automated manufacturing programs.
Rock Creek also intends to implement mentoring program, modeled after a success adapted from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County's Center for Women in Technology.
Cornea-Hasegan's MeMT project started last December, and aims to give out one-year scholarships to 80 students working on their associate degrees in microelectronics tech, and also additional one-year scholarships to eight graduates who transfer to OIT.
Cornea-Hasegan said over the next five years, her program aims to increase the percentage of women enrolled in microelectronics from 18 to 25 percent, and the percentage of minorities from 25 to 35 percent.
She aims to retain more than 90 percent of the program's students to complete their microelectronics degree and hopes to ensure employment for all the graduates in the semiconductor industry.
"That is the whole purpose of these grants — to encourage enrollment and improve retention and graduation rates for these student populations in fields that are traditionally less attractive to women and minorities," said Cornea-Hasegan. "We'll concentrate on strategies that have proven successful across the country and we'll add to the knowledge base of what works here at PCC."