TCC Pursues Million Dollar National Science Foundation Grant

April 17, 2018

Recently, TCC submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation to fund a five-year project aimed at bolstering the success of students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; S-STEM). The submission was the end-result of six months of collaboration between TCC faculty, administrators, and the Office of Sponsored Programs.

The proposal builds off TCC’s involvement in a prior stage of the grant that funded the TCC PIPESTEMS program in 2009. The proposal seeks $998,407 to launch the new STEM initiative, $600,000 of which will be used to provide direct financial aid to students.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Patrick Idwasi is the Principal Investigator for the project.

“So many students were impacted by the previous S-STEM grant and voiced their appreciation to me and other faculty members,” says Dr. Idwasi. “It made applying for this new grant imperative.”

At a recent STEM open house at The University of Tulsa, Dr. Idwasi reunited with two TCC PIPESTEMS scholars serving as TU student ambassadors. They shared their appreciation for the program and its impact in helping them get to TU.

“Such encounters underscore the importance of the grant in terms of opening opportunities for students,” says Dr. Idwasi.

“Patrick was instrumental to the process,” says TCC Sponsored Programs Coordinator Katie Gillies. “We worked with Patrick to bring in the people needed to create a powerful and competitive project. Patrick brought a lot of ideas to the table and worked hard to keep everything on track.

“A lot of faculty at community colleges don’t go after big external grants because of their teaching loads. But Patrick has successfully acquired large grants before and he’s doing it again. He’s proof our TCC faculty can pursue grants of this magnitude. The first grant was $589,005, so this is a big step up. We are pursuing this because it will inform TCC’s best practices for STEM student success.”

TCC Director of Sponsored Programs Barbara Waxman feels work on the grant will have an enduring impact on the College.

“We don’t know if we’ll be awarded, but our faculty and staff came together to work toward that goal, and I feel that will continue,” says Waxman. “I do not believe any grant work is ever wasted. As a College, we’re actively seeking funding to support students and high-impact practices, and faculty are taking initiative to support those efforts.”

If awarded, the grant will fund the new Fostering Outcomes for Community college STEM students (FOCuS) program, which examines the impact of three research-based interventions to community college low-income, academically promising but at-risk students: mentorship, student cohorts, and undergraduate research.

“All of those are data-supported best practices for student success,” says Gillies. “If we can implement them at TCC, we’re going to increase student success in our STEM programs.”

Waxman hopes other TCC faculty and staff can build on the collaborative momentum generated by the grant proposal and seek out other external funding opportunities.

Do you want to find out more about grant funding opportunities?

The offices of Sponsored Programs and Grant Accounting and Compliance will visit all four campuses next week to present “Introduction to Grants.” The presentations will inform faculty and staff about the services the Grants Office provides: the pursuit of public funding for projects that support TCC’s mission, and identifying potential funding sources of interest to faculty and staff.

These are the dates for the Introduction to Grants presentations:

  • Monday, April 23, 9 a.m., West Campus Boardroom (WCi232)
  • Monday, April 23, 3 p.m., Northeast Campus Boardroom (NCAC1315)
  • Tuesday, April 24, 3 p.m., Metro Campus Boardroom (MC617)
  • Thursday, April 26, 3 p.m., Southeast Campus Boardroom (SC1320)

Faculty involved in the NSF S-STEM grant proposal:

  • Patrick Idwasi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry (PI)
  • Thomas Henderson, M.E.T., Associate Professor of Engineering and Applied Technologies (co-PI)
  • Kelly Allen, Ph.D., Chair, Physical Sciences, Associate Professor of Geography & GIS (Senior Personnel)
  • Neil Enis, M.S., Chair, Biology & Physical Education, Assistant Professor of Biology (Senior Personnel)
  • Mary Gutierrez Phillips, M.A., Associate Professor of Biology (Senior Personnel)
  • Lance Phillips, M.S., Associate Professor of Mathematics (Senior Personnel)

Key Administrators:

  • Jennifer Ivie, Ph.D., Director, Institutional Research & Assessment (co-PI)
  • Lyn Kent, M.S., Dean, School of Math & Sciences (co-PI)
  • Patrick Green, J.D., M.S.E.L., Dean, Engineering & Applied Technology (co-PI)
  • David Poth, M.B.A., Dean, School of Business & Information Technology
  • Terri Alonso, Dean of Student Affairs: Student Retention & Support Services
  • Karen Jeffers, Director of Financial Aid

This particular initiative speaks to several of HLC’s criteria for accreditation including 3.D.5 (dealing with student research) and 5.A.1 (dealing with fiscal, physical, and technological infrastructure).