LSU partners with BRCC for STEM success
In today's job market, the number of non-traditional students looking for an advanced degree to attain higher paying jobs has increased dramatically. Baton Rouge Community College and LSU's College of Engineering, through a $2.25 million five-year National Science Foundation, or NSF, grant, have developed a solution to address the need for more engineers in the workforce and an increased student interest in an obtaining engineering degree.
Kenton Killen is a "BRCC to LSU Engineering Pathway to Success" scholar. The program began in 2011 through an NSF award to the LSU College of Engineering.
"BRCC/LSU: A Partnership for STEM Student Success" is a program intended to increase the success of producing more engineers, computer scientists and construction managers.
NSF is investing in the combined efforts of BRCC and LSU's College of Engineering to support a well-integrated program to support student transition. Features of the program include:
- A designated counselor to work exclusively with BRCC transfer students into the LSU College of Engineering.
- Training and support for five LSU S-STEM scholars who will mentor and assist BRCC transfer students.
- An annual faculty development workshop for both BRCC and LSU faculty to enhance transition initiatives, educational pedagogies and partnerships among faculty.
"The benefit to the students here is significant," said Rick Koubek, dean of the LSU College of Engineering. "NSF's support of the BRCC and LSU College of Engineering program is designed to make an engineering education – and career – an achievable dream for all students. The partnership underscores LSU's and BRCC's commitment to Louisiana by working across academic institutions to meet the needs of our state through educating more engineers, construction managers and computer scientists."
The joint efforts of BRCC and LSU's College of Engineering through this NSF grant are expected to provide the opportunity for more students to pursue an LSU College of Engineering degree and achieve success in the field. The program will facilitate a seamless transition from BRCC to LSU by supporting individual mentoring, peer tutoring, professional development for faculty, pre-college preparation programs and a designated academic counselor.
"A designated counselor and team of LSU peer mentors will facilitate BRCC students joining with their LSU sophomore counterparts and progressing on towards the junior year in their curricula leading to a bachelor's degree," said Warren Waggenspack Jr., associate dean for academic programs in the LSU College of Engineering and principal investigator for the NSF grant. "The annual faculty development workshop reinforces educational benefits of active learning strategies on improving learning, developing critical thinking skills and creating a sense of community – all of which contribute to improved retention and graduation."
"This grant is critically supportive to providing services that promote student success both here at BRCC and in transitioning from here to four-year programs like our partner, LSU," said Jo Dale Ales, dean of STEM at BRCC. "We have already seen success with our pathway program and are enthusiastic about the extended opportunities this grant will provide for non-traditional, underrepresented and first-generation students to work towards obtaining a degree in engineering or construction management."
NSF's support of the BRCC/LSU College of Engineering pathway program began in 2011, when LSU's College of Engineering received a $600,000 award from NSF to provide scholarships to BRCC Associate of Science pre-engineering graduates who continued their pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree at LSU. "BRCC to LSU Engineering Pathway to Success" provides financial support for approximately 35 academically talented, financially eligible students who have completed the Associate of Science in pre-engineering degree at BRCC and will transfer into an engineering degree program within the LSU College of Engineering.
Additionally, many of the students approaching graduation from BRCC with an associate's degree in engineering in the partnership program, affectionately referred to as the "Bears to Tigers" program, are military veterans actively seeking a pathway to becoming successful engineers.
"Being an older student coming to LSU, I don't really have the conventional financial opportunities that younger students have, and this scholarship has given me the ability to obtain my bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering," said Kenton Killen, BRCC to LSU Pathway Scholar. "Engineering has been something I have wanted to do for a very long time."