Itawamba Community College has been selected as one of the winning colleges in the American Association of Community Colleges’ MentorLinks: Advancing Technological Education program.

“Itawamba Community College is extremely grateful to the AACC for the opportunity and awarding of this significant grant that will make a difference in the lives of many of our students who soon will be able to explore STEM areas,” said ICC President Dr. Jay Allen. “We expect this interest to translate into more majors and ultimately more graduates in these fields.”

The goals for ICC’s project, entitled Full STEM Ahead: Promoting Pathways in STEM, include increase enrollment and retention in STEM courses and career education programs, increase the number of graduates in STEM fields and career education programs and to facilitate student transfer in STEM fields.

The two-year $20,000 grant for the period of October 1, 2021-November 30, 2023 will include salaries, benefits, travel, materials or resources and equipment.

The grant will enable ICC to utilize a mentor in establishing an Introduction to STEM Professions course, a STEM Club and a STEM Week. The two-hour course will explore opportunities and challenges in fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, information systems programming, information systems networking, mathematics, advanced manufacturing, industrial maintenance, industrial electricity, robotics and automation and welding.

It will also explore conceptual tools used by scientists and engineering, describe STEM professions and professional challenges, explore basic concepts associated with various STEM professions and provide hands-on experience and practice from multidisciplinary fields. 

The STEM Club, which will alternate meeting locations in Fulton, Tupelo and Belden, will connect students with an interest in STEM-related fields and will provide an opportunity for them to attend STEM-related forums, network with other students in similar fields of study, meet representatives from universities and local companies and discover and engage in new technology and community service, Howard said.

Each year, the STEM Week will be dedicated to introducing and recruiting students to ICC’s academic and career education STEM-related fields. Each day will showcase a different career opportunity and will include speakers, industry partners and college recruiters. Field activities will spark interest in STEM.

In addition to Howard, the Project Advisory team includes Dr. Jada Mills, natural science division chair and Heather McCormick, mathematics division chair, who co-authored the grant proposal; and Bryan Hawkins, president of Hawkeye Industries. Dr. Michelle Sumerel, vice president of instructional services, will oversee the project, and Barry Emison, vice president of career and workforce education, will assist in coordination with promotion of the STEM career education programs.

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