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Cal State LA receives federal grant to diversify the STEM workforce

September 13, 2017

By Margie Low, Cal State LA News Service

California State University, Los Angeles has been awarded a $464,977 grant from the National Science Foundation to help develop a diverse workforce in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“We are pleased to receive this grant, which will help provide insights into successful strategies to support the academic success of underrepresented students in STEM,” said Emily Allen, dean of Cal State LA’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology.

The three-year NSF award will be used to expand Cal State LA’s first-year experience program for undergraduate students in the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology.

“Our strategy is to build on the community-oriented culture of our student body to develop the resources and environment to promote student excellence and success in computer science, technology, and engineering majors,” said Allen, who is the grant’s principal investigator.

The program will promote student success, using student cohorts and offering peer-assisted mathematics supplementary instruction with hands-on labs. A faculty mentor will also be provided throughout the students first year.

Math, physics and engineering will be integrated in an elemental way that will strengthen students’ commitment and interest in the rest of their studies.

A recent NSF report highlighted the need for the U.S. to increase efforts to educate groups that “are not being sufficiently tapped for the STEM workforce, particularly African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, women, and persons with disabilities.”

The NSF has identified Cal State LA as a national leader for its success in graduating Latino students who go on to earn the Ph.D. in STEM.  

“Our students are changing the face of STEM professions across the nation,” said Cal State LA President William A. Covino. “We look forward to continued success.”

The program, which is known as [email protected], is part of an initiative of the California State University system to help meet the nation’s need for one million more STEM professionals during the next decade. The program was established to provide more holistic advisement and STEM foundational skills to students, so they can be successful in their majors and be inspired to complete their degrees.

Other faculty members from the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology involved in the program include Zilong Ye, Mark Tufenkjian, Gustavo Menezes, and Paul Nerenberg.

Photo: Cal State LA engineering students in 3D printing lab. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 245,000 distinguished alumni.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit