Northeast State will partner with Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College to improve technician training and increase the number of skilled workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) priority areas through a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Northeast State envisions the $58,493 grant will serve more than 500 undergraduate students, pre-college students, college faculty, and high school educators over a three-year period.
The grant will fund gender equity and problem-based learning training for community college instructors and public school educators, a Women in Technology Ambassador program, professional development opportunities, and marketing efforts.
Northeast State seeks to increase the percentage of female students who enroll in its Network Engineering Technology and Information Assurance programs by 15 percent per year and to increase the fall-to-fall retention rate of the female students.
The effort builds upon the results of a previously funded NSF pilot project at A-B Tech that evaluated strategies to retain more female college students in two-year technician preparation programs.
Over a three-year period, A-B Tech increased the number of female students in the specific STEM programs from 12 to 19 percent. The project also worked to improve all technician training.
Allan Anderson, Associate Professor of Computer and Information Sciences of the Business Technologies Division, will be the liaison between Northeast State Community College and A-B Tech.
“The program seemed to work very well at A-B Tech,” Anderson said. “We’re hoping to take what A-B Tech accomplished, expand upon it, and customize it for our targeted groups.”
In addition to Northeast State, Anderson said A-B Tech will partner with Blue Ridge, Haywood, Southwestern and Tri-County Community Colleges in North Carolina; and Virginia Highlands Community College to replicate successful aspects of the pilot program.
“There is a critical shortage of skilled workers in Technology and Engineering jobs. Increasing female enrollment and persistence in these programs will address this regional problem,” said Pamela Silvers of A-B Tech and the project’s principle investigator.