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PCC Earns $400,000 Grant from National Science Foundation
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Community College has recently learned it is the recipient of a four-year, $399,118 grant from the National Science Foundation to increase diversity and access in engineering and microelectronics programs. With this grant, the college plans to increase the number of women in these programs by 25 percent, and underrepresented minority students by 50 percent.In addition to PCC, whose programs are located at the Sylvania and Rock Creek campuses, Tillamook Bay and Columbia Gorge community colleges will also benefit from the grant, due to contract relationships these two colleges have with PCC to maintain accreditation status. PCC President Jesus "Jess"Carreon, said, "We are excited that the National Science Foundation will provide major dollars for PCC to expand its ability to recruit woman and underrepresented students into our engineering and microelectronics programs. The PCC Foundation will oversee the distribution of these scholarship funds. This is great news for our students, our community and our state."The grant will allow the PCC Foundation to significantly increase funding for scholarships for students. The Foundation will be able to double the number of annual scholarships it now disperses for a total of approximately 350, said Jan Coulton, Foundation director. A survey of students in PCC technology programs revealed that in the past three years, technology students have demonstrated greater need for financial assistance than other PCC students.. For example, 15 percent more technology students were eligible for the federal Pell grants. In addition, the Foundation was able to fund fewer than half of the technology students who applied for scholarships. The PCC programs receiving scholarship funds include the following two-year associate degree programs: electronic engineering technology, computer software engineering technology, civil/mechanical engineering technology and microelectronics technology. According to Scott Huff, division dean for engineering, math and technology at the Sylvania Campus and the project leader for the grant, "The main barrier to students entering the technology disciplines is a lack of financial resources. More than one-third of our current students have children and 13 percent are single parents. An annual $3,000 scholarship will fully cover their tuition, books and supplies."Project developers received substantial support from area businesses who provided letters of support and who agreed to serve on the project advisory committee, the scholarship selection committee and provide recipients with a mentor. These businesses include Intel, CH2M Hill, Port of Portland, LSI Logic and the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers, among others PCC plans to recruit at selected high schools and will also work with local organizations that promote educational and career opportunities for minority populations. The scholarships will be granted beginning fall of 2003.