Tag Archives: STEM

Richland College Works with Girls Inc. to Prepare Young Women for College and STEM Careers

For the sixth year in a row, Richland College partnered with Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, to host part of a four-week summer camp for young women focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. The girls were at Richland June 10-14.

“The girls are living proof that the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts,” said Simona Farcasiu, with the School of Engineering and Technology. “It takes a community to encourage girls to overcome challenges and pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields, and it was a great joy to watch the returning group of girls act as mentors to the rookies.”

This year, Richland College hosted two groups of girls – rookie eight graders and returning ninth graders. The returning group participated in biology/chemistry camp led by Libiya Shah and Becki Williams, where they learned about the water cycle and tested various water samples. The eighth graders participated in engineering/math camp, led by Simona Farcasiu and Praveena Dhayanithy, where they learned how math concepts are applied in engineering. Some applications included resistor color codes as applications of exponents and measuring sine waves as applications of trig.

In addition, both groups participated in a digital literacy camp led by Melinda Andrews, where they investigated their digital footprint and online safety. Also, the girls utilized their special reasoning skills when building lamps in art camp, led by Vicki Mayhan. Finally, both groups performed a beautiful dance routine symbolic of the Gestalt theory, “the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts,” led by Gina Sawyer.

Guests speakers during the camp included Martha Hogan, former executive dean for the School of Engineering and Technology, who spoke about the importance of education and addressed various pathways for achieving a degree and moving into a career in STEM. Sparsula Simmons, PMP, CSM manager at State Farm, led the girls into explorations of what it takes to be successful in a career and reminded the girls that they have the keys to success. Two Richland College police officers, Corporal Brooks and Officer Lopez, led a discussion with the girls about various issues. 

“Throughout the camp, the girls impressed us with their depth of thought, openness to new ideas and support for each other,” added Simona.

Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas serves a diverse population of 1,000 girls, ages 6 to 18, in the Greater Dallas area. The organization focuses on the development of the whole girl through a combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment and research-based programming that equips girls to lead fulfilling and productive lives, break the cycle of poverty and become role models in their communities. For more information, visit https://girlsincdallas.org

Thanks to everyone who helped make this event another success!  


Headshot of Dr. Raghunath Kanakala Dr. Raghunath Kanakala Appointed Richland College Executive Dean for Engineering and Technology

Richland College has named Raghunath Kanakala to the position of executive dean of its School of Engineering and Technology. Kanakala’s appointment was approved by the Dallas County Community College District Board of Trustees Dec. 4, and he will assume this role in early 2019.

Kanakala currently serves as dean of technical education at Aiken Technical College in South Carolina. While there, Kanakala has overseen 12 technical education program areas, including industrial maintenance, welding, HVAC, CNC, graphics, electrical technology, radiation protection, tower, nuclear fundamentals, pre-engineering, physics and chemistry.

Prior to his current role at Aiken Technical College, Kanakala was an assistant professor in the University of Idaho – Idaho Falls College of Engineering, a research scientist and lecturer for the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University in New York and a graduate research and teaching assistant in the Colleges of Engineering at the University of Nevada Reno and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

His academic leadership has included management of a $2.5 million Individuals Safety Training to Achieve Climber Credentials grant to train and place low-skilled workers, Trade Adjustment Assistance-certified workers and others in high-demand jobs in the tower industry and to reduce fatalities in the industry. He also holds a U.S. Patent in “combustion synthesis method and boron-containing materials produced therefrom,” and has developed curriculum, published 16 articles in industry journals and delivered numerous conference presentations.

At Richland College, Kanakala will provide academic leadership for the School of Engineering and Technology, which offers programs in computer information technology, computer science, cyber security, engineering, engineering technology (advanced manufacturing and electronics technology), interactive simulation and game technology, multimedia, networking/authorized training (Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, UNIX), photography/imaging, PC support and semiconductor manufacturing technology.

The Richland College School of Engineering and Technology also supports the Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Center, a learning space for relevant, hands-on experience and career-focused training with leading edge, industry-quality technology for engineering and manufacturing students.

Upon entering his new role, Kanakala hopes to advance Richland College’s student success initiatives, faculty development and community partnerships, particularly regarding apprenticeships, internships, curriculum development and articulation agreements.

“I would like to increase the awareness about engineering transfer degrees,” Kanakala said. “Also, I would like to work on improving the apprenticeship models for different programs.”

“Dr. Kanakala brings proven leadership experience in engineering and technology education, and I am very excited to welcome him to Richland College as our new executive dean,” said Shannon Cunningham, Richland College executive vice president for academic affairs and student success. “I know he will continue to advance the mission, vision and strategic direction for our School of Engineering and Technology as we continue to deliver programs that meet industry demand and promote student success.”

Kanakala holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Nevada Reno. He also earned a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management.


Girls Inc. “Eureka!” campers pose with Richland College speech communication faculty member Sherry Dean during the 2017 camp. Richland College and Girls Inc. Empower and Prepare Young Women for College and S.T.E.M. Careers at ‘Eureka!’ Summer Camp

For the fifth year in a row, Richland College is partnering with Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, to host the first half of a four-week summer camp for young women focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. The camp begins June 4 is one portion of the Girls Inc. “Eureka!” model program.

This year’s camp is comprised of a new cohort of campers entering 8th grade who have committed to the “Eureka!” program through their senior year of high school.

The Girls Inc. “Eureka!” program exposes girls to opportunities and experiences where they can see themselves as important parts of the STEM workforce of the future. While at Richland College, the girls will participate in STEM and arts sessions, including robotics, programming, clay art, printmaking, dance and digital literacy.

“The focus of the camp is to expose the girls to engineering topics and lab experiences designed to encourage them to choose careers in STEM fields,” said Simona Farcasiu, Richland College electronics faculty member and lead faculty for the Richland College portion of the camp. “Through exposure to a group of female role models from both industry and Richland College, we hope these girls will feel inspired to break through barriers.”

During the digital literacy session, the campers will learn about online searches, online scams, cyberbullying, safe online talk, how to present oneself online and more, with the goal being to provide the girls with necessary tools to keep themselves safe and conduct themselves appropriately in an increasingly digital world.

Along with STEM career awareness, college awareness is another important part of “Eureka!”. Not only does the program initiate the campers’ exposure to STEM fields, but while at Richland College it gives them a feel for college life as they interact with college students, faculty and staff.

“This joint camp with Girls Inc. is an excellent way to empower young women to pursue careers in STEM fields, while also allowing us to share the wonderful opportunities Richland College has to offer and the value of a higher education,” said Shannon Cunningham, executive vice president of academic affairs and student success at Richland College.

“Richland College is an integral partner for the Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas ‘Eureka!’ program,” said Erin Chupka, vice president of program services for Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas. “During the two weeks Girls Inc. girls spend at the Richland campus, they have the opportunity to participate in STEM workshops with dedicated and engaging Richland faculty and are exposed to life on a college campus. Richland does an exceptional job with our young girls, and they leave excited about college and career opportunities in STEM. As each group of girls move through the five-year program, the ‘Girls Inc. Experience’ equips them to navigate gender, economic and social barriers and to grow into healthy, educated and independent women. We are grateful for the support of our incredible partners like Richland in helping to change the face of STEM and improve economic mobility for our girls and their families.”

Richland College’s portion of the camp is sponsored in part by a $15,000 grant from State Farm. Upon completing their two weeks of camp at Richland College, the girls will be hosted for one week each at the University of North Texas at Dallas and Cedar Valley College.

The girls participating in the “Eureka!” program will spend their first two summers being exposed to higher education and STEM careers at Richland College and other nearby colleges before spending their third summer in externships that will provide more focused hands-on learning in several STEM career areas. Year four will be about college and career preparation, during which campers will receive assistance on how to navigate the college application process, from studying for standardized tests to writing admissions essays and applying for financial aid. In their final summer in the program, taking place prior to the start of their senior year of high school, the young women will each be placed into a paid internship in a STEM industry in which they have expressed interest.

In conjunction with the summer camp component of “Eureka!”, all cohorts meet approximately once per month throughout the school year to participate in STEM-related field trips, workshops, career panels and more.

Richland College offers a variety of STEM-related programs, including both traditional two-year degree programs and workforce-ready certificates designed for immediate employment, through its School of Mathematics, Science and Health Professions and the School of Engineering and Technology. Richland College’s science building, Sabine Hall, features cutting-edge science labs and equipment and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum-certified building for its minimal impact to the environment and eco-friendly design. Richland College also houses the Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Center, a space fully equipped with up-to-date, industry-quality technology that allows engineering and manufacturing students to gain relevant, hands-on experience and career-focused training.

Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas serves a diverse population of 1,000 girls, ages 6 to 18, in the greater Dallas area. The organization focuses on the development of the whole girl through a combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment and research-based programming that equips girls to lead fulfilling and productive lives, break the cycle of poverty and become role models in their communities.


Richland Collegiate High School Paves the Way for Future S.T.E.M. Graduates with New Engineering Pathway
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Eleven high school juniors from Richland Collegiate High School (RCHS) recently completed the first course in a new engineering pathway, paving the way not only for the students to get a head start on college-level courses while still in high school, but also for the students to become immediately employable, with some students even achieving a level-one manufacturing certification.

The first class in this new pathway was Drafting 1309, an intensive 13-day class taught by Mohammad-Ali Manouchehripour, Ph.D. In addition to basic drafting, students learned computer-aided design (CAD), a basic foundation of engineering, with the software AutoCAD. In this class, students learned how to draw an object and create a blueprint, and later they will actually be able to manufactur those objects.

“I think AutoCAD is a good software to learn in general because it has such a wide range of uses,” said Mitchell Zadnik, one of the RCHS students enrolled in Drafting 1309. “Our instructor told us some people take the class to make jewelry, some people take it for engineering and some people take it for the general knowledge of it.”

Students in the engineering pathway have access to Richland College’s Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Center, a multi-million dollar learning space with leading edge, industry-quality technology that allows engineering and manufacturing students to have contemporary, hands-on learning experiences and career-focused training.

“Our students are going to be designing, developing and manufacturing their own parts and then assembling them into their own robotic assessments at the end of the program,” said Craig Hinkle, RCHS principal. “It is a very unique opportunity in public education for 16-year-old high school students to have access to multi-million dollar labs and manufacturing processes. When they leave here, they’ll be employable in the industry before they’ve even received their college degrees.”

“All of the software students learn in this class and this program can be added to their portfolios,” said Manouchehripour. “When they go to job interviews in two years, they will have experience with the software currently being used in the industry. Here at Richland College, everyone is a team. Our main agenda is to make sure we educate students, and to be a supplier to the demands of the local industries.”

When filling the inaugural drafting class, RCHS looked for students who were interested in math, science and engineering; students who may have already been in robotics clubs at their previous high schools; and students who had previously taken advanced math courses. For the duration of their time at RCHS, the students will work closely with RCHS senior academic advisors to develop a continued pathway based on their future educational and career goals.

Most of the 11 students in the inaugural class have dreams to go into various engineering fields, including but not limited to aerospace, biotechnical, software, manufacturing and mechanical. Other career aspirations include architecture, mathematics, marine biology and security.

In a pathway traditionally dominated by men, administrators were also pleased when the inaugural class had more female students than male students.

“More than 50 percent of the students are female, and we are really excited about that,” said Hinkle. “There has been a trend that math and science fields are dominated by males, and we as an American society have been trying to change that. Right now, we actually have about a 60/40 female-to-male ratio, of which we are proud. We hope that will be an inspiration to other female students in the future.”

Johannah Belk, one female RCHS student, joined this program because it offered more opportunities in engineering than her previous high school did.

“I’ve explored many different fields of engineering, but doing AutoCAD all day, every day in this course made me realize it’s what I want to do every day for the rest of my life, which is pretty exciting,” said Belk. “I’m hoping to design locks and go into security. I think the mechanisms inside locks can be advanced with growing technology, and I want to be a part of that.”

Another female RCHS student, Alaina Crowder, joined the program so she could gain college experience in high school before transferring to a four-year university.

“My dream job is to be a manufacturing engineer,” said Crowder. “After taking this class and being shown around a manufacturing lab, I became super interested in that field. I hope I’ll be able to work in a lab like this one someday.”

Richland Collegiate High School is a school designed to provide a rigorous academic experience for high school juniors and seniors. Students complete their last two years of high school at Richland College by taking college courses and earning college credits. These students can potentially graduate with both their high school diploma and an associate degree, prepared to transfer to a four-year university. Tuition and books are free, making RCHS an educational and affordable choice.

For more information about Richland Collegiate High School, visit alt.richlandcollege.edu/rchs.


Richland College Unveils Innovative ‘Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing’ Center on Campus
Joe May and Kay Eggleston standing at a podium.

Dr. Joe May and Dr. Kay Eggleston speak at the opening of the Richland College TEAM Center, April 21, 2016. Photo by Keenan Cobb.

The Richland College Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Center had its grand opening yesterday, advancing the college’s mission of teaching, learning and community building. The new TEAM Center also addresses the need to contribute to the growth of the current and future Dallas economy by developing human capital success of key regional industries and employers.

With leading edge, industry-quality technology, the Richland College TEAM Center offers students hands-on learning experiences and delivers career-focused training leading to high-demand jobs in engineering, electrical engineering technology, electronics technology and advanced manufacturing.

Funding for the TEAM Center design, renovation and equipment was made possible through the $1.5 million portion of equipment funding provided by a $3.2 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor; more than $2.7 million from the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) Chancellor’s Career Ladder Funds; $1.6 million from Richland College’s institutional funds; and a gift of $500,000 from Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) to fund the newly-redesigned electrical engineering technology programs at Richland, Eastfield and Mountain View colleges.

“The TEAM Center is fully equipped to provide students exceptional hands-on, industry-specific, degree-focused, problem-based learning experiences and career training with stackable industry-recognized certifications,” said Kathryn K. Eggleston, Ph.D., Richland College president.

President Eggleston and Dr. Joe May, DCCCD chancellor, presided at the open house and ribbon cutting, with special guests including Dr. Peter Balyta, president of Texas Instruments Education Technology, and Edgar Garcia, Workforce Development Specialist with the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The leadership of Dallas County Community College District Chancellor Dr. Joe May has been paramount in the success of the significant public-private partnerships necessary to make this TEAM Center possible,” said Eggleston. “Chancellor May is deeply committed to improving the Dallas economy by helping to grow middle-class jobs to jump start new economic investment and job creation.”

The TEAM Center was designed by Aaron Farmer, Yvette Jarvis and Fred Peña of Booziotis & Company Architects. Also involved in the design and construction process were David Boon and Ken Fulk, project engineers with Reed, Wells, Benson and Company; Jacob Williams, project manager, and Danny Purselley, project superintendent, with Byrne Construction Services; Judy Lembke, construction manager with Lemco Construction Services; and Clyde Porter, DCCCD associate vice chancellor/district architect, and Jean Hill, DCCCD project manager.

The advanced manufacturing program at Richland College prepares students for entry-level manufacturing positions through an associate degree, three certificates and two skills achievement awards. The electrical engineering technology degree and electronics technology degree prepare students for technician-level employment in semiconductor, electronics and related industries through an associate degree or a certificate.


Richland College Earns Tech Titans Award Nomination for S.T.E.M. Summer Camp for Girls

The Metroplex Technology Business Council announced this morning that Richland College is a finalist for the Tech Titan of the Future University Level award for its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) summer camp for middle school girls. The camp is a partnership with Girls Inc. of Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, and the University of Texas at Dallas.

The camp, called “EUREKA!”, empowers campers to see themselves as an important part of the STEM workforce of the future.

“We are delighted and grateful for this recognition from the Metroplex Technology Business Council,” said Sherry Dean, Ph.D., Richland College professor of speech communication. “In this unique partnership with Girls Inc. of Dallas and the University of Texas at Dallas, we are nurturing a cohort of eighth grade girls over a five-year period. We are growing their academic skills and empowering them to pursue STEM majors and future STEM careers. We believe this program will influence these young women for many years to come.”

The Tech Titans awards consist of 12 categories, with six to 10 nominations and up to four finalists in each category. The winners will be announced Aug. 21 at the Tech Titans Awards Gala at the Intercontinental Hotel in Addison, TX.

The Tech Titans Awards Gala, sponsored by AT&T, recognizes the most elite in North Texas technology – individuals currently transforming the high-tech industry and giving companies that competitive edge. The Tech Titans awards showcase the innovators, adopters and executors impacting the technology industry for the greater good.


Richland College Partners with Girls Inc. to Provide Middle School Girls a Glimpse Into College Life and Access to S.T.E.M. Programs and Careers
Girls huddled around a lab table.

Girls Inc. campers participate in lab activities at Richland College on their first day of camp Monday, June 22. Photograph by Paul Knudsen.

For the second year in a row, Richland College recently partnered with Girls Inc. of Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, to host part of a four-week summer camp for middle school girls.

The camp, called “EUREKA!”, empowers campers to see themselves as an important part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workforce of the future. Richland College is hosting the first week, June 22-26, which focuses on “Water: Ubiquitous and Unique.” The girls are exploring various properties of Earth’s most important resource in the contexts of sustainability and ecology. The curriculum includes experiential learning activities in the sciences, 3-D art, learning strategies, college readiness and communications skills. Each afternoon, the girls also learn about the physics and fun behind the hula-hoop.

“The unique feature of this program is that we are intentionally nurturing a cohort of girls in STEM fields over a five-year period,” said Sherry Dean, Ph.D., Richland College professor of speech communication. “We will nurture them through high school graduation and help them secure successful higher education pathways in a STEM major. By the time these girls graduate, they will have both the knowledge and confidence to pursue a career in STEM.”

Upon completing their first week of camp at Richland College, the girls will go to the University of North Texas at Dallas, followed by the University of Texas at Dallas. The camp concludes at Cedar Valley College on July 24 with a closing ceremony featuring a rocket launch.

“The accumulation of learning and exposure to STEM over the course of four weeks could have a tremendous impact on a girl’s future,” said Girls Inc. of Dallas CEO Lori Palmer. “We hope to help girls become well equipped for the future by exposing them to diverse opportunities like careers in STEM and ongoing summer learning opportunities.”

The “EUREKA!” program is sponsored in part by SAP Labs, the TI Foundation, ExxonMobil and a $10,000 grant from State Farm that is specifically funding the first week of camp at Richland College.


Richland College Offers Summer Youth Camps in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Richland College will host three types of youth camps in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields this summer. These summer camps will introduce young students to various STEM industries, including programming and game design, animated and sculptural art and robotics.

“Richland College is thrilled once again to be hosting such exciting summer camps,” said Heather Lozano, Richland College’s assistant dean of continuing education and workforce training. “These camps are really a win-win for parents and their children—parents are sending their children to a wonderful learning environment, and the kids are having a great time at camp as they explore these STEM subjects.”

In partnership with the University of Texas at Dallas, Richland College will host a programming summer camp, where campers will learn Scratch, Logo, JavaScript and GameMaker. The sessions will be July 6-10 and July 27-31 and will be split into levels: level one will be for grades three through five, and level two will be for grades six through eight. Campers in level one will attend camp in half-day sessions from either 9 a.m.- noon or 1:30-4:30 p.m. and will be provided computers. Level two campers will attend full-day sessions from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and they will be required to bring a laptop.

New this summer, Richland College will be offering a dynamic art summer camp for children age seven to 12 in partnership with Dynamic Art Design. Campers will create unique animated art projects that incorporate visual designs that the students arrange as their own creations, combining art and technology while also challenging the children to explore the relationship of these ideas with the use of motors, gears and pulleys to take their artwork to an exciting new level. The three sessions for this camp take place June 8-12, July 6-10 and Aug. 27-31, with both morning and afternoon sessions offered from 9-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-3 p.m. respectively.

Teaming up with Robots 4 U, Richland College will also offer its robotics summer camp. This camp combines computer science and engineering with daily robotics challenges and an end-of-the-week competition. Each session is mostly hands-on and includes individual design, building and creating up to seven robots. While beginners are welcome, all levels will find this camp challenging and fun. This camp is for ages seven to 17, and the three sessions take place July 22-26, July 20-24 and Aug. 17-21. Morning and afternoon sessions will be offered at 9-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-3 p.m., and campers should bring their own lunches and drinks.

Registration is currently open for all camps. Space is limited, so early registration is suggested for all camps. For information on all summer camps, including links to registration, visit www.richlandcollege.edu/summercamps.

All three camps will be located on the Richland College campus. Richland College is located at 12800 Abrams Rd. in Dallas.


Richland College Designated as 2015 STEM Jobs Approved College

STEM-related iconsRichland College has been recognized as a 2015 STEM Jobs Approved College by Victory Media for its innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs and center.

Richland College is included on the 2015 STEM Jobs Approved College list for its STEM job alignment, STEM job placement and the diversity of its STEM programs.

Richland College’s STEM Center prepares students for work in a competitive science- and technology-based economy and establishes well-defined student career pathways. It provides support and guidance to students pursuing STEM careers, with a special emphasis on women and historically underserved populations with fewer resources. STEM advisors provide recruitment of and focus on new-to-college students who indicate a desire to pursue STEM careers. Using this advising process, students identify and follow clear, direct career pathways with multiple points of advisor contact, mentoring and scholarship opportunities.

“Being a STEM Jobs Approved College shows that Richland College is committed to providing a quality, relevant education to our STEM students that will translate into excellent career prospects,” said Martha Hogan, Richland College’s executive dean of the School of Engineering, Business and Technology. “Our STEM advisors ensure our students have a clear path of study, leading to job opportunities and seamless transfers to four-year institutions. This helps steer our students to success in their chosen STEM fields.”

Richland College was recently chosen to participate in the White House College Opportunity Day of Action, during which President Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Biden announced new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. Richland College committed to expanding its STEM Center to reach more than 4,000 students during the next three to five years with proven programs to increase STEM success.


Richland College Announces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

Richland College president Kathryn K. Eggleston, Ph.D., and Dallas County Community College District chancellor Joe D. May, Ed.D., are joining President Obama, the First Lady, Vice President Biden and hundreds of other college presidents and higher education leaders in Washington, D.C., today to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action will support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders and nonprofits to support students across the country to help the nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

“Richland College is well-positioned to be a part of such an ambitious initiative to assist greater numbers of students in their educational pursuits toward degree completion and well-paying jobs,” said Eggleston.

To be a part of this event, Richland College committed to expanding its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center to reach more than 4,000 students during the next three to five years with proven programs to increase STEM success.

Richland College was able to create the STEM Center by leveraging community partnerships and external resources. Initially partnering with the University of Texas at Dallas as a sub-recipient of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) grant from the National Science Foundation, Richland College has fully funded its STEM Center to advance STEM-graduate completion.

Richland College’s STEM Center prepares students for work in a competitive science and technology-based economy and establishes well-defined student career pathways. It provides support and guidance to students pursuing STEM careers, with a special emphasis on women and historically underserved populations with fewer resources. STEM advisors provide recruitment of and focus on new-to-college students who indicate a desire to pursue STEM careers. Using this advising process, students identify and follow a clear, direct career pathway with multiple points of advisor contact, mentoring and scholarship opportunities.

“Our STEM advisors and faculty are an invaluable resource to students pursuing STEM degrees,” Eggleston said. “Through them, the students are able to navigate their college experience with greater focus, allowing for a seamless transition to university transfer and excellent job opportunities.”

To attain its goal of reaching more than 4,000 students during the next three to five years, Richland College will establish additional focused career pathway opportunities with universities that include research, design and practice-based experiences. It will also expand its summer Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Camp designed to serve 8th grade girls in underserved and under-resourced populations in a community partnership with Girls, Inc. The camp is designed and taught by Richland’s STEAM faculty, who are women and minority women, providing role models for young women at a critical age in their aspirational direction.

Participants in the White House College Opportunity Day of Action were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative or increasing the number of college graduates in the STEM fields.

The President will announce new steps on how his administration is helping to support these actions, including $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and it will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action that took place Jan. 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, as compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 per year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and completion.