Cal State L.A. to boost student success through NSF-funded program

Cal State L.A BOOST team faculty members
Cal State L.A. to boost student success through NSF-funded program
Cal State L.A.’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology has received a $249,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help launch a bridge program focused on service learning.

Professor Deborah Won is the lead principal investigator of the “BOOST: Bridge Opportunities Offered for the Sophomore Transition.” The co-principal investigators are Cal State L.A. Professors Gustavo Menezes, Arturo Pacheco-Vega and Adel Sharif. 

This urban service learning program, to be funded over a two-year period, will help prepare engineering students to excel in their core engineering courses. The program targets freshmen transitioning into their sophomore year.

“BOOST will bring together identified at-risk students, faculty, and peer-mentors in an intensive seven-week summer program that helps students transition from their basic science and math courses and prepare them for the rigors of the engineering core curriculum,” said Won, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cal State L.A.

BOOST features urban-centered, design-focused service learning projects that students will complete during their critical transition between freshman and sophomore years. The program will provide students with contextualized, problem-based learning while motivating them to succeed in their engineering education by engaging in their communities.

“Dr. Won’s ideas and passion for motivating our students continues to result in great success for our students. We look forward to this new project, which will provide opportunities for our students to engage in community service while learning engineering skills,” said Emily Allen, dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology.

Through the program, Won will work collaboratively with other faculty to improve student success and to diversify the STEM workforce pool. Her research focus is in biomedical engineering. But over the past year, she has helped establish and direct a new First-Year Experience program in the college called FYrE @ ECST. 

The FYrE @ ECST at Cal State L.A. is part of an initiative underway across the California State University system. The goal is to help meet the nation’s need for 1 million more science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals during the next decade. This program provides more holistic advisement and STEM foundational skills to students, so they can be successful in their majors and be inspired to complete their degrees.

“The BOOST program, along with FYrE @ ECST, will help our students to build their identity as future STEM professionals, and at the same time serve our community,” said Won said. “With the enthusiastic support of Dean Allen, the faculty team is excited to bring this new program to our college.”

For more about the BOOST program, contact Won by email at [email protected].

Photo: From left to right, BOOST team faculty members Arturo Pacheco-Vega, Adel Sharif, Deborah Won, and Gustavo Menezes. (Credit: Isaac Gallegos/Cal State L.A.)

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