November 29, 2016 12:27 ET

Community College Works to Grow STEM-Ready Workforce

Minority Participation in STEM Stagnant Across U.S.; BMCC/CUNY Programs Steer Minorities and Women to STEM careers

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - November 29, 2016) - There is a growing sense of urgency to steer minorities and women into STEM fields if the United States hopes to remain competitive on a global scale according to data from Change the Equation, a coalition of Fortune 500 companies working to ensure that young people in the United States are STEM literate. The current STEM workforce is largely white, male and aging out - and the percentage of young workers to replace them is not keeping up.

Over the past several months, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) received more than $8.2 million in federal grants to develop and strengthen three programs meant to clear stumbling blocks and broaden pathways to future STEM careers in fast-growing fields such as cybersecurity and engineering.

BMCC is among the top five U.S. community colleges that awards associate degrees to minority students. Even so, around 75 percent of BMCC freshmen are required to pass remedial math courses before they can take required gateway math courses that put them on the path to a STEM major. BMCC is taking several proactive steps to address this issue and grow minority students' interest and confidence in pursuing STEM careers.

Title III STEM Articulation Program- $6 Million Grant

Among BMCC's efforts is a five-year program designed to increase the number of Hispanic students at BMCC who major in Computer Information Systems and Media Arts and Technology, and then transfer to related bachelor's degree programs at CUNY senior campuses, including New York City College of Technology (City Tech) and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The project is funded through a $6 million Title III STEM and Articulation grant from the Hispanic Serving Institutions program of the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Dedicated counselors will closely monitor student progress, and intervene if they fall behind in their course work.

"We will also implement a summer bridge program, blocked scheduling, small student cohorts and deliver support services such as mentored research," said Erwin Wong, BMCC Dean of Academic Affairs and Principal Investigator of the project. "Our ultimate goal for this grant is to better prepare students for STEM careers in programs offered in our Computer Information Systems and Media Arts and Technology Departments, have them persist in these programs and successfully transfer into a related STEM program at a senior institution."

U.S. Department of Education-$1.2 Million Grant

Teams of math professors from BMCC and New York City College of Technology have partnered to digitally transform gateway math courses and break down barriers to career advancement in STEM fields. The project, Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies or Student Success in STEM is funded by a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The five-year effort, now in its second year, is overseen by BMCC Math Professor Jean Richard, BMCC's principal investigator along with Ruru Rusmin, BMCC E-Learning Interim Director. Each year, 12 BMCC and 12 City Tech math instructors are developing a comprehensive suite of Open Educational Resources for four gateway math courses. Resources include videos, supporting class materials and assignments from WeBWork, an open-source online homework system for math and science.

National Science Foundation -$1 Million Grant

BMCC received a $1 million S-STEM grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), to promote STEM education among minority students. The project will be led by Computer Information Systems Professor Anna Salvati, Science Professors Lalitha Jayant and Adolfina Koroch, and Mathematics Professor Abdramane Serme.

The project, Broadening STEM Participation Among Minority Students in an Urban Community College will also provide dedicated STEM advisors, and offer options including an intensive five-week course that will prepare students to take part in faculty-mentored research projects.

"They will have the opportunity to participate in academic field trips to major research sites and complete internships within government agencies and industries such as entertainment, finance and banking," said Salvati.

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) and enrolls almost 25,000 degree-seeking and 11,000 continuing education students a year, awarding associate degrees in more than 40 fields. BMCC ranks #5 among community colleges nationwide in granting associate degrees to minority students, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education. Visit:

Contact Information