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NCC Receives NSF Grant to Recruit Female Engineering Students

By Norwalk Community College (NCC)

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NORWALK, CT - The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Norwalk Community College (NCC) a $224,999 grant to develop initiatives to close the gender gap in engineering occupations and encourage more women to study engineering in college.

The three-year grant will fund an NCC initiative titled Recruitment and Retention of Women in Engineering and Engineering Technology (E&ET). Funding begins September 1, 2018 and ends August 31, 2021.

In 2017, women made up less than one-third of the manufacturing industry workforce in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2016, only 14 percent of full-time wage and salary workers in architecture and engineering occupations were women, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The gender gap exists in most E&ET programs nationwide, and Norwalk Community College (NCC) is no exception,” said Mobin Rastgar Agah, Ph.D., Coordinator of the NCC Engineering program. “While in the past year, there has been an improvement in enrollment of female students on average, women comprise 12% of the E&ET program at NCC…The goal is to increase the number of students in this program with special focus on enrollment of women.”
NCC is already a state leader in STEM education to prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
“STEM is the nation’s fastest-growing employment sector and we want to introduce more female students to the tremendous job opportunities available to those who study engineering and technology,” said NCC President David L. Levinson, Ph.D.

NCC will use the NSF funding to prepare a gender-diverse population of technicians for local industries and prepare more graduates to transfer to four-year colleges and universities to pursue further education in engineering. The initiative will:

Develop and implement strategies for recruiting and retaining female students in E&ET programs;

Promote high-impact practices for retaining female students both within the course curriculum and through student support programs by facilitating professional development for faculty and staff;

Design and deliver a contextualized Intermediate Algebra course as a pilot model for NCC in order to increase success rates of female students in engineering and engineering technology

Panel discussions with local business and industry partners will be held to raise awareness on campus and encourage faculty to enhance their course curricula. Faculty will learn about necessary tools and techniques and how to apply them to their courses for the betterment of student success through online training and on-campus workshops.
The project will design a contextualized Intermediate Algebra pilot course. Mathematics proves to be the critical path for many students at the college. The majority of NCC’s E&ET students start at the Intermediate Algebra level, and it is a required course for undecided students. The course will target female students and encourage them to pursue a degree in E&ET.
NCC’s Engineering Science A.S. Degree Transfer Program offers students with a strong mathematics and science background the transfer courses required in the first two years of study in many Bachelor’s degree programs in engineering. NCC students are accepted to competitive engineering programs including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the University of Connecticut at Storrs.
The College also offers a Technological Studies (Pathway) A.S. Degree Transfer Program which is a pathway for students who wish to transfer into Central Connecticut State University’s B.S. program in Industrial Technology or B.S. program in Technology and Engineering Education, K-12.

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