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BMCC Aims to Close 'STEM Gap' with $6 Million Grant

(L-R): Christopher Stein, Erwin Wong, Mete Kok
(L-R): Christopher Stein, Erwin Wong, Mete Kok
October 5, 2016

Latinos account for more than half of total U.S. population growth — yet make up less than 10 percent of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workforce, according to a 2016 report by the Pew Research Foundation.

This gap is being closed at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY), where Hispanic students now comprise 40% of the total student population.

Funded by a $6 million HSI-STEM and Articulation Program Title III grant from the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) program of the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, BMCC will partner with New York City College of Technology (City Tech) and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Together, they are launching a five-year program to increase the number of Hispanic students at BMCC who major in Computer Information Systems and Media Arts and Technology, and then transfer to related bachelor’s degree programs at City Tech and John Jay College.

“The project will incorporate successful elements from the ASAP model and follow what Thomas Bailey terms a ‘guided pathways model’,” says Erwin Wong, BMCC Dean of Academic Affairs and Principal Investigator of the project. “We will implement a summer bridge program, blocked scheduling and student cohorts, and deliver support services such as mentored research. Our ultimate goal for this grant is to better prepare students for STEM careers in programs offered in our Computer Information Systems and Media Arts and Technology Departments, have them persist in these programs and successfully transfer into a related STEM program at a senior institution, such as City Tech and John Jay College.”     

With more than 8.6 million STEM-related jobs anticipated by the year 2018, he says, “preparing and encouraging students to pursue technical careers is critical.”

The project’s Co-Principal Investigators Mete Kok, BMCC Professor of Computer Information Systems, and Christopher Stein, Chair of the BMCC Media Arts and Technology department, say that eventually, students in the program will be qualified to begin careers as a system analyst, database administrator, cybersecurity specialist, web programmer, network engineer and other roles — all within today’s fastest-growing career sectors.

“We recognize the importance of STEM in this economy and are certain that you [BMCC] will implement projects and programs that will help increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students that graduate with degrees in STEM fields,” says Beatriz Ceja-Willams, Division Director at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education. “I am confident that the work you do [BMCC does] will have an amazing impact on the educational success of Hispanic students.”

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • BMCC receives $6 million to increase Hispanic students in CIS and Media Arts and Design
  • Five-year program prepares students for transfer to John Jay College of Criminal Justice and NYC Technical College
  • Graduates are prepared for STEM careers in cybersecurity, web design, network engineering and more

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