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UA College of Engineering recieves $1.07 million diversity grant from NSF

Selena Quintanilla

Students walks into the Engineering building Thursday, Oct. 6. The College of Engineering recently received a $1.07 million grant in the name of diversity and inclusion.

The UA College of Engineering recently received a $1.07 million award granted by the National Science Foundation.

The NSF awarded the College of Engineering the Bridge to the Doctorate grant to help increase diversity among students planning to pursue doctorates in the fields of not only engineering but other STEM subjects as well.

“We think this is really critical mainly because if we want to be able to solve really hard problems it takes a diverse set of ideas,” said Jeff Goldberg, dean for the College of Engineering. “If we are going to be solving those tough international problems, it’s not just going to be people from the Unites States doing that. It’s up to us to educate people from across the globe.”

RELATED: UA seeks to diversify faculty and improve hiring efforts

According to Goldberg, the overall idea is to build the educational level worldwide.

The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation is a program run by NSF at many universities around the country.

James Field, assistant dean for graduate education for the college of engineering said that Arizona State University is one of the leading institutions for the alliance. UA and ASU both belong to a coalition that provided the relationship allowing UA the opportunity to apply for grants like the Bridge to the Doctorate grant.

This is UA’s second NSF Bridge to the Doctorate grant after a $987,000 award for the years 2012-2014.

The award covers tuition and provides $32,000 in fellowships to underrepresented minority students for two years.

“I think that it is great the College of Engineering sought out the grant,” said Jesús Treviño, senior diversity officer and vice provost for inclusive excellence. “The dean for the College of Engineering is very committed to his work and adds to the entire inclusiveness and diversity effort that is being done on campus.”

Fields said he thinks the award was based on the awareness that diversity in the STEM field doesn’t reflect the population.

RELATED: UA’s newest freshmen class set to be most diverse ever

“There’s not much diversity in them as a percentage compared to the population,” Field said. “Because we live in Arizona, it is true for the indigenous, Native Americans and Hispanics.”

The award is dedicated to Maria Teresa Velez, who was associate dean of the UA Graduate College. Velez died of cancer in April and is listed as a co-principal investigator on the project.

Fields said he and Velez worked together for many years and pushed to increase diversity in graduate education and programs, especially in the STEM field. Fields said the success of the grant is an honor to her.

According Goldberg, Fields did a great job of taking over after Velez, picking up a lot of the same ideas. Goldberg said “he’s a champion” for helping graduate students have a greater education.

“It helps us bring in a lot of different students and makes the educational experience better when we have a diverse group,” Goldberg said. “It’s a much richer discussion than just having people from Arizona.”

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