National Science Foundation awards Kettering University $400,000 for scholarships

A new National Science Foundation (NSF) grant will contribute $100,000 a year for four years in scholarships to find bright young people who want a hands-on engineering education. The NSF effort will especially seek out female students with academic and leadership potential.

Dr. Laura Sullivan, associate dean of students and associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, brought together her Kettering peers to write the grant and is excited at the potential it represents. "This grant motivates Kettering to look at every aspect of a student's university career. It's how NSF is telling us that the Kettering experience is meaningful," she said. "A small school like Kettering is more capable of bringing in every stakeholder who has a role with new students."

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Here's how the $400,000 will be invested:

YEAR 1: 48 scholarships from $1,500 to $3,000 for incoming freshmen (men and women); also qualifies student for Kettering scholarships (up to a full scholarship at Kettering for the year). Program begins in July 2002.

YEARS 2-4: Program's focus changes to incoming freshmen women through a program called LITE (Lives Improve Through Engineering). Kettering scholarships also available.

The NSF program is called Academic and Cooperative Education Success for Freshmen Scholars. It joins an existing Kettering Scholars program to enhance funding for those with an interest in science and engineering.

In 2002, LITE will begin. LITE is a two-week summer residential program for high school girls to experience bioengineering through classes in biomechanics, bioelectronics, biochemistry and biomaterials.

"Exposure to bioengineering allows for a clear picture in a student's mind that what they're going to do with engineering will make life better for other people. That issue is critical to girls," Sullivan said. "Girls need to see in their mind's eye how their contributions to the world will make the world a better place."

Sullivan cited a couple of examples of "improving life" - things like crashing safety for pregnant women or bettering spinal supports for paraplegics. "We want to entice the brightest young women nationally to consider Kettering and also the field of engineering," she said. "LITE will be a clear visualization for young women that a career in engineering will help society."

Sullivan believes that NSF selected Kettering to receive the funding because its small size is crucial to engaging the many facets of a student's life on campus. "The concert of all the players on and off campus (academics, student life, academic services, etc.) moving beyond their circle of responsibility is what got us the blessing from NSF. Kettering will work hard to ensure the success of the students we bring here. We have a strong team buy-in to assure retention."

Putting the spotlight on the student will be a team of players who will orchestrate support. The players include:

  • Finding the best and brightest - Enrollment Management, led by Bob Nichols, vice president for Enrollment Management.
  • Providing meaningful, hands-on work experiences - Corporate Relations, led by Garth Motschenbacher, director of corporate relations, and a team from corporate sponsors.
  • Helping make the academic experience rich and rewarding - Students Affairs and the Orientation Program, led by Patrick Deese, vice president for Student Affairs.
  • Teaching bioengineering courses -- will be faculty members who are interested in growing the number of females in science and technology. They include Karen Palmer, from Electrical and Computer Engineering; Laura Rust, from Electrical and Computer Engineering; Stacy Seeley, from Science and Mathematics; and Patrick Atkinson, from Mechanical Engineering.
  • Providing additional support -- will be Karen Wilkinson, from Liberal Studies, who is interested in research on what makes for job satisfaction during co-op experiences.

"This effort will transform a single performance into a symphony," Sullivan added.

Written by Patricia Mroczek
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