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MentorLinks Funds STEM Tech Development at 10 Community Colleges

Ten community colleges make up the latest cohort in MentorLinks, an initiative to help them improve, expand and build their technology programs. The goal: to ramp up student and faculty involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Participants are paired up with mentors from other institutions to work on curriculum development and redesign, industry engagement, faculty training, student recruitment and retention and experiential learning opportunities.

Since its founding in 2002, 34 colleges have gone through the program, which is led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Small and rural colleges, which don't often have resources for applying for grant funding or building up their STEM programs, are a major target.

According to AACC, over the course of the last 12 years the project has resulted in the creation of 103 new courses, 15 new associate degrees and 25 new certificates, as well as several industry partnerships and internship sites. Former colleges have also applied for and received additional NSF grants as a result of their MentorLinks experiences.

The new colleges will receive $20,000 in seed monies for the two-year grant period and additional funding to support travel to national meetings and events.

Their projects cover biotechnology, manufacturing, engineering, clean energy, cybersecurity and other segments.

"This program has given a small rural community college the opportunity to see what other curricular development in the area of advanced technology is possible," said Jim Roomsburg, dean of business & technical education at former recipient South Arkansas Community College. "The relationships we have developed with AACC, ATE and our mentor have been invaluable."

The 10 selected colleges that will participate in the 2014–2016 program are:

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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