NMSU, DACC receive nearly $5 million NSF grant to help students earn engineering degrees

New Mexico State University and Doña Ana Community College have been awarded a five-year, almost $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The funds will support scholarships and guided pathways to help students earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering.

Mireya Varela, a student in the Manufacturing and Engineering Program at Doña Ana Community College, works on a project. Recently, New Mexico State University and DACC were awarded a National Science Foundation grant to help students pursue bachelor’s degrees at NMSU. (DACC photo by Gloria Nevarez-Leslie)

NMSU’s College of Engineering received $3,745,040 and DACC received $1,247,737 for the “Pathways for the Successful Transfer and Retention of Engineering Students from Two-to Four-year College in New Mexico,” a collaboration that is part of NSF’s Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, which is focused on increasing the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields. The grant is believed to be DACC’s first from NSF.

“The proposed project will contribute to establishing a successful two- to four-year pathway model between DACC and NMSU College of Engineering, through enhancing the current DACC-NMSU transfer model, initiating a concurrent enrollment model, providing near-peer mentoring and faculty advising, and utilizing data analytics to identify students’ academic performance in near real time,” said Muhammad Dawood, Klipsch School of Electrical Engineering professor and NMSU’s principal investigator. “The project will also undertake activities to increase the math proficiency of the scholars and enhance metacognition-based study practices, initiating growth mindset and enhancing engineering identity.”

The award funds need- and talent-based scholarships up to $10,000 per year, and provides guided pathways for DACC students in the Manufacturing and Engineering Program who transfer to NMSU to pursue bachelor’s degrees in NMSU’s College of Engineering.

“Thanks to NSF, this grant will not only provide scholarship money for DACC students planning to transfer to the College of Engineering at NMSU, but it will also provide both academic and student support services to facilitate the transfer,” said Joe Butler, dean of the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Division and principal investigator at DACC. “I thank Dr. Muhammed Dawood for masterminding this collaboration which will benefit students at both institutions.”

Dawood credits the award to more than two years of work between NMSU and DACC, including DACC’s Science, Engineering and Mathematics Division and Institutional Analysis along with NMSU’s College of Engineering, Student Success Center, Aggie Pathway, New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation, College of Education, Graduate School and Office of Institutional Analysis.

“I am very pleased with the efforts and the collegiality demonstrated by more than 18 individuals from these departments spanned over two campuses,” Dawood said. “This not only serves as a successful model of collaboration between the two campuses, it bodes well for the success of our students who are at the center of our efforts.

“Given the current COVID-19 environment, recruitment of the scholars into the program will be a challenge, as would be the delivery of many programmatic activities, workshops and the Math Summer Boot Camp,” Dawood said. “Efforts are afoot to not only approach and access the currently enrolled engineering-bound DACC students, but also expand our outreach to the high schools in the area.”

The program began April 1. Students and families interested in learning more about this scholarship can contact Dawood at dawood@nmsu.edu or Butler at jbutler@dacc.nmsu.edu.


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