UA Leads Effort to Spark Minority Participation in Science, Technology

PrintTUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama will be the lead institution in the state in a national effort to increase the number of students from underrepresented minority groups in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

UA was awarded a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to head the Alabama Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, or ALSAMP. To kick-off the five-year grant, UA is hosting a meeting on campus Monday, Sept. 19 among top administrators from the participating nine universities, four community colleges and six industry partners.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. with remarks by UA President Stuart R. Bell in 1012 North Engineering Research Center.

“Taking the lead on this initiative shows our commitment to diversity at The University of Alabama and the significant role we have as part of a national effort to address the nation’s dire need for people from underrepresented minorities in the STEM disciplines,” said Dr. Viola L. Acoff, project manager of ALSAMP and associate dean of undergraduate and graduate programs in UA’s College of Engineering.

ALSAMP began as one of several similar alliances across the nation 25 years ago, and UA joined in 1994. The program awards performance-based stipends to incoming college students to help cover some tuition as well as offering a summer program meant to be a bridge between high school and college and a spring research conference.

“We strive to be more than a scholarship program, so the students are assigned mentors on the faculty and in industry so they can grasp first-hand what they can do with their STEM degree,” Acoff said. “We manage the grant to not only help the students with educational related expenses, but also provide activities and opportunities to ensure success in completing their bachelor’s degree.”

In the new grant cycle, ALSAMP will provide outreach activities that promote STEM fields to middle school students, funding to help minority high school and college students participate in research activities during the summer and offer a bridge program for students transferring from community colleges to four-year institutions.

The grant, which provides about $1 million annually for five years, comes to UA, but will be distributed among ALSAMP members who will then use the funding for student support.

Along with UA, the other four-year institutions in ALSAMP are the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of South Alabama, Oakwood University, Miles College, Talladega College, Stillman College and Alabama A&M University. Also part of ALSAMP are Faulkner State, Calhoun, Shelton State and Jefferson Davis community colleges. The Alabama School of Math and Science along with the Alabama School of Fine Arts are members. Industry partners include Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Dynetics, Alabama Power Co., Airbus, Evonik and SSAB.

Contact

Adam Jones, engineering public relations, 205/348-6444, acjones12@eng.ua.edu

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.