UWF receives $3 million grant to enhance STEM courses
The University of West Florida received a five-year, $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance and expand its science, technology, engineering and math courses.
The grant, which was awarded to the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, will provide funding for the University to purchase new technology and equipment, and hire additional staff who will help ensure student success in STEM courses.
“Under this grant, we have the ability to transform our STEM general education program using best pedagogical practices,” said Dr. Jaromy Kuhl, interim dean of the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. “We will redesign key STEM entry-level courses, build STEM success studios, and by doing so, improve STEM retention and produce more STEM graduates.”
The grant also provides funds to renovate and build additional laboratory space, including about $250,000 to build new physics labs.
“We’re building in and building out our chemistry and biology labs to improve their technology so they have equipment to enhance the teaching of some of the concepts the students are learning,” said Dr. Matthew Schwartz, who coordinated the grant application while serving as associate dean of the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering and now serves as the interim assistant vice president for research administration at the University.
Among the new staff that will be hired through the grant, will be an academic coach dedicated to helping students succeed in STEM courses by helping them learn effective study skills and time management. A data analyst will also be hired to assess the effectiveness of the enhancements made to STEM courses, Schwartz said.
“All of these pieces added together are part of a comprehensive plan to enhance the way that we teach the lower-division STEM courses to our students,” Schwartz said.
The planned enhancements to STEM courses outlined in the grant application, which will include the redesign of some curriculum, were done in consultation with faculty in the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, Schwartz said. Combined with other recent funding awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, UWF’s Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering has earned competitive awards totaling more than $5 million to address STEM education in the past five years.
“The administrators and faculty in that college, with the support of UWF, were really what helped push this forward,” Schwartz said.
For more information about the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, visit uwf.edu/hmcse.