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Evaluation of three consecutive NSF S-STEM Awards (2008 – 2021) at a Predominantly Undergraduate Institution

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors

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Karinna Vernaza Gannon University

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Scott Steinbrink Gannon University

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Lin Zhao Gannon University

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Saeed Tiari

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Varun Kasaraneni Gannon University

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From 2008 to 2021, Gannon University was awarded three National Science Foundation S-STEM awards (0806735, 1153250, and 1643869) amounting to $2.2 million. These awards provided a total of 300 one-year scholarships to engineering and computer science academically talented students having financial need. The program developed at Gannon University provided an educational experience emphasizing technical mastery, personal and professional development, and community engagement through partnerships with nonprofit organizations in the local community. At its inception, the program was one-of-a-kind, providing a unique tool to intentionally connect technical education with the community-service mission of the university. The program developed and lessons learned through the eight years of the first and the second awards were previously detailed in another publication. 2021 marked the completion of the third award with 64 scholars graduating with a STEM degree who completed the program and with $1.76 million dispersed directly to scholarships. To-date, without NSF funding, the program continues to exist with university funds to support the scholarships. In the current paper, the authors summarize the implementation of new activities, lessons learned, and the evolvement of these three grants. Emphasis will be given to describe responsive changes made after the second grant activity incorporated in the third iteration of the grant, and lessons taken from the third award activity. Topics of this paper include additional features implemented in order to foster better diversity in the program and career readiness, observations about student motivation as a result of grant activities, experiences with students working on interdisciplinary community engagement projects, guidelines on how to better and more effectively interact with stakeholders, lessons on assessment of student progress (along with warning signs of imminent trouble), and planned actions to improve student success outcomes.

Vernaza, K., & Steinbrink, S., & Zhao, L., & Tiari, S., & Kasaraneni, V. (2022, August), Evaluation of three consecutive NSF S-STEM Awards (2008 – 2021) at a Predominantly Undergraduate Institution Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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