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NSF gives PCC almost $600,000 for STEM scholarships
Photos and Story by James Hill
The National Science Foundation has awarded Portland Community College a four-year grant award of $599,384 for scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related programs.
The aim is to continue to boost the number of educated and skilled technology workers who are women and minorities in these related career fields. This is the third time the college has been awarded a four-year NSF grant for this goal. With the two completed grants, PCC has served 128 minority and women students to date.
Mechanical engineering instructor Todd Sanders, who oversees the grant, said 64 additional scholarships will be offered through the new grant in addition to student outreach and support, career exploration, college transfer and job placement services. Students in the Microelectronics Technology Program at the Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W Springville Road), and in the Machine Manufacturing Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, and Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology programs at the Sylvania Campus (12000 S.W. 49th Ave.), will be targeted.
“We have been doing a great job in both meeting the outcomes outlined in current grants and in looking forward with new grants,” Sanders said. “We will use this round of funding to begin awarding scholarships to students that have completed fall quarter classes in 2012.”
Judging by winter term statistics the scholarships are working. Out of the 315 students in the programs, 43 were women and 33 minorities. In the Machine Manufacturing Technology Program, Mariah Pierce is one of five women in a class of 100 students. The 19-year-old Oregon City native volunteers with a horse rescue organization, cleaning stalls, grooming the animals, and training and riding them. Now, she spends most of her time in the Sylvania Campus Machine Manufacturing shop, using skills she learns in her computer numerically controlled (CNC) programming class to design machine parts for projects that count toward her degree.
“We are self-motivated and hands on, which is what we need in our job industry,” said Pierce, who trail rides and barrel races with her horse. “Because of the scholarship that I got through STEM I have no student debt. I have been able to, with a part time job, pay for my books and classes. Also, I can take anywhere from 12 to 14 credits without having to dip into a bank account, which is wonderful.”
In her second year, Pierce has had a scholarship since her graduation from Gladstone High School when she was a participant in the three-week, seven-credit PCC Summer Robotics Camp for her high school robotics team. She learned how to use the machine manufacturing tools to build her own parts for the competitions.
“Once I learned how to use the lathe then I actually got to make a really cool hammer and from that I was hooked,” Pierce said of the camp. “I liked how we got to use the machines and how you can take pieces of stock and make something useful.”
Pierce is now targeting Oregon Institute of Technology to finish her engineering degree, and eventually wants to work for Boeing as an engineer – a field dominated by men.
“Boeing offers so many good opportunities and they are a company that do really well by their staff,” Pierce said. “I want to get my hands a little bit dirty by getting into the business and start figuring out what I like.”
For further information, contact Todd Sanders at email@example.com, or (971) 722-4654.