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NNMC gets $1.1M grant

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Funds will help with scholarships to guide students into science, math, engineering, teaching fields

By Special to the Monitor

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.1 million grant to Northern New Mexico College in Española to support scholarships that will increase the number of students seeking to be science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers for north-central New Mexico schools.

The award is effective Oct. 1 and expires Sept. 30, 2015.

The project, entitled “NNMC Phase 1-Noyce Scholarship Project,” is under the direction of Drs. David J. Torres, Catherine Berryhill, Fangyang Shen and Ivan Lopez-Hurtado at NNMC.

Through a partnership involving Northern New Mexico College’s departments of Engineering and Math and Science with collaborating local school districts, the program aims to increase the number of qualified mathematics and science teachers in schools for Northern and central New Mexico.

The program targets STEM majors who decide to teach late in the course of their undergraduate STEM degrees and seek an alternative certification as teachers through Northern’s College of Education.

“The Noyce scholarship is essential to a state like New Mexico in advancing teachers prepared to engage students in STEM, due to the shortage of STEM teachers in New Mexico,” said Jamai Blivin, president and CEO of Innovate+Educate. “Noyce scholarships will help address the challenges New Mexico faces in the teacher shortage of STEM educators.”

The program also provides STEM undergraduates with summer internships to participate in the organization, planning and implementation of science outreach activities.

A focus of this project is to encourage more Native Americans and Hispanic students to enter into STEM teaching fields.

Los Alamos Commerce and Development Director Kevin Holsapple said he realizes how important STEM skills are in the workplace.

“As I have learned more about employers’ needs for people who have STEM skills, it has impressed me how critical it is for our schools to have the teachers needed to teach those skills to our young people. Initiatives like this aim to help with that,” he said.