A proposal written by three professors from the College of Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to help recruit and mentor underrepresented minority students has been chosen to receive a three-and-a-half year grant from the National Science Foundation. The $41,000 awarded to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi for the first year of the grant will be used to provide University students with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a graduate education and employment in the fields of energy and sustainability.

Funding to participate in workshops and learning opportunities across several universities in the Texas A&M System is provided to deserving full-time students, and it is an important tool for attracting and graduating students pursuing studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). These funds also make it possible for talented students, many of whom are first-generation college students, to navigate the process of earning a degree, and to learn how to successfully compete for positions in high-demand fields.

The project titled, “AGEP-T: Collaborative Research: Advancing Interdisciplinary STEM Graduate Education in Energy and Sustainability Disciplines,” was written by Dr. J. David Moury, Associate Dean of Science and Engineering, Dr. Michael Wetz, Assistant Professor of Science and Engineering and Dr. Petru-Aurelian Simionescu, Assistant Professor of Science and Engineering

The Island University partnered with other universities in the Texas A&M System to complete the proposal for the grant. Five doctoral-granting institutions form the central partnership: Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and West Texas A&M University. The goal of the university partnership titled, “Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate” (AGEP), is to increase numbers of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders entering and completing graduate programs.

The hope for this master plan is that these underrepresented students will enter graduate and postdoctoral training in STEM fields. This will give students a better opportunity of obtaining graduate degrees and entering the job market into high-paying positions. A special emphasis of the program is to encourage students to enter academic fields and become professors themselves.

Texas A&M-Corpus Corpus has recently been recognized by The Online College Database as one of the 33 Most Popular U.S. Colleges for Hispanic Students. In addition, the University was ranked 11th in the state and 25th on the national list, with 43 percent of its student body, nearly 4,500 students, being of Hispanic descent in fall 2012.

In addition, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was ranked among the Top 100 Colleges for Hispanics by the Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine, and was recognized by the Peace Corps as one of the top 10 volunteer-producing Hispanic Serving Institutions in the nation for 2013.

The University offers the Title V-STEM Outreach, Access, and Retention Program, which supports Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s federal designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution by closing the educational gaps in STEM fields. In addition, the McNair Scholars Program prepares low-income, first-generation college students and underrepresented groups for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities including STEM research projects.