UNCG has received a $32,485 grant from the National Science Foundation to provide scholarships for undergraduates studying science or math, a program expected to grow to almost $600,000 over four years.
The university plans to eventually award 11-16 new Science Technology and Math Preparation Scholarships (STAMPS) each year with the first awards to be made in the spring semester. The scholarships, based in part on student financial need, will average about $6,700 per year.
“Many people have argued that scientific progress is the engine that drives economic development through the creation of new products and new companies,” said Dr. Steve Danford, an associate professor of physics and astronomy. “A scientifically literate workforce is vitally important to the economic future of this area. We have to have it.”
Danford wrote the grant proposal with help from Dr. Jeff Patton, chair of the Department of Geography, and Dr. Mary Crowe, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.
The program is aimed at students majoring in biology, chemistry & biochemistry, computer science, geography, mathematics & statistics, or physics & astronomy. The scholarships will allow students to graduate with less debt and to spend more time on their studies. Roughly 30 percent of UNCG undergraduates work 20 or more hours at an off-campus job, according to a 2009 survey.
Participants will be recruited at community colleges and high schools as well as from among UNCG students. STAMPS will provide wide-ranging support, including a freshman seminar, enrolling the students in the same classes when possible, skill/career development activities, summer programs, peer mentors and tutors. Students are more likely to succeed when they are part of a supportive group, so each class of scholars will take part in team-building activities.
The cultural, social and economic history of the Triad, the 1.6 million-resident urban area made up of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem, has been closely tied to cigarette, furniture and textile manufacturing. STAMPS will help support the growth of pharmaceutical and technology companies, a growing force in the regional economy.
In recent years, UNCG has received several National Science Foundation grants expected to total more than $4.1 million to support undergraduate and graduate students studying STEM subjects. STEM is short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Project ExSEL provides mentoring, summer stipends, two-year Noyce Scholarships and other support for future science teachers. The Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education Program provides fellowships for graduate students who work with students and teachers to enrich math and science lessons at three High Point schools.