NSF Project Summary

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and Metropolitan Community College (MCC) propose a joint collaborative effort to increase associate and bachelors degrees in the STEM areas of biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics and physics. The scope includes articulating new associate degree programs at MCC, scholarships for under-represented financially needy STEM majors at UNO, bridge scholarships for transfer students from MCC to UNO, new internship opportunities at MCC and UNO, early undergraduate research at UNO, establishment of an effective mathematics/science learning center at UNO (using MCC's successful model), development of new interdisciplinary courses and majors at UNO in bioinformatics, information assurance, medicinal chemistry and neuroscience, and high school outreach provided by a coordinator at MCC and Problem of the Week (Mathematics) and Problem of the Month (Computer Science) activities at UNO.

This ambitious agenda will be accomplished by close coordination between the principle investigator (PI) and two co-PI's at UNO and two co-PI's at MCC. They will be assisted by several faculty and staff at both institutions with either assigned or released time. MCC will hire an Outreach Coordinator and UNO will assign time to an Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences for overseeing articulation issues and also to a UNO faculty member in Mathematics Education to provide ongoing project evaluation.

The unique intellectual merit of this proposal is its broad, collaborative and multi-faceted approach that improves the pathways and opportunities for students to pursue STEM degrees. The goal is to simultaneously boost STEM enrollments and degrees awarded in six UNO departments located in two different colleges and two MCC departments. This will be accomplished by creating new associate degrees at MCC, forging articulation agreements for complete programs of study, greatly expanded interdisciplinary options at UNO and a significant focus on student support services. The high school outreach, scholarship/tuition waiver, and enhanced learning center components will provide the stimulus to attract and sustain more students.

The broader impact is considerable. If successful, this project will vividly demonstrate that a major societal problem such as an inadequately trained scientific workforce can efficiently and usefully be addressed with a large coordinated effort. Under-represented STEM students predominate at MCC and will be specifically targeted at UNO. A many pronged partnership between two different institutions is the major focus of this proposal. The web-site to be constructed right from the start and updated frequently as the project proceeds will provide widespread knowledge and further testing of our model.