Friday, October 22, 2010

$3.2 Million Grant For Tech

Mountain Mail reports

The U.S. Department of Education recently approved New Mexico Tech’s request for a second multi-million grant for educational development and new technology.
The federal agency announced October 1 that Tech will receive $3.2 million over five years, in addition to a $2.8 million Title V grant for the Center for Graduate Studies, which was awarded in 2009.
“We would never be able to get these resources from any other source,” said Peter Gerity, vice president of academic affairs. “These funds provide direct support of our major efforts in retention and improved technology.”
The existing grant for the Center for Graduate Studies, under the supervision of Graduate Dean Dave Westpfahl, is funding several initiatives, including Smart Classrooms, graduate student lounges and customized services for graduate students. The new grant is very similar, but tailored for undergraduate students.
Dr. Scott Zeman, associate vice president of academic affairs, said students will begin to see the impact over the coming years.
“These grants will have a tremendous impact, not only our Hispanic students, but on the entire institution,” said Zeman, who is also the principal investigator for the undergraduate grant. “The grants provide a huge leap forward by providing us with the vital resources to implement many of the retention and graduation initiatives that we have been wanting to do as an institution.”
Chemistry professor Michael Pullin will serve as the project director of the undergraduate program. He said the goal of the latest Title V proposal is to increase retention and graduation rates and minimize failure of early-year “gateway” courses, such as chemistry, mathematics, and physics.
The program will also try to improve the involvement of freshman on campus.
Pullin said the proposal identified five possible themes:
  • Sustainability at New Mexico Tech
  • Science and Engineering of Automotive Design
  • Environment of the American Southwest
  • Computing and Information Technology for Society
  • Criminal Minds: Human Behavior and Forensic Science
Students in each learning communities will also be grouped together in a dormitory, where they’ll have access to a high-tech study area. The grant will fund 10 new Smart Classrooms across campus, which will be used for all undergraduate classes. The initial Title V grant is funding similar technology for the graduate program.
Westpfahl has used the Smart ClassRoom technology for classes.
“The technology is exceptional,” he said. “The instructor just has to learn how to master the technology.”

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