Auburn Gets Federal Grant to Promote STEM for Students with Disabilities

The National Science Foundation has awarded Auburn University a $10 million grant to support a 5-year initiative with the university. The goal of the project is to increase the number of students with disabilities interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes with the hope that it will make their transition into the workforce a little easier.

People with disabilities face many obstacles in the workforce. Less than 20 percent of people with disabilities have a job, with many working part-time only. For other grants specifically for those with disabilities, log on to GrantWatch.

“Persons with disabilities are one of the most significantly underrepresented groups in STEM education and employment,” said Overtoun Jenda, assistant provost for special projects and initiatives at Auburn. “And they comprise a disproportionately smaller percentage of STEM degrees and jobs compared to their percentages in the U.S. population. This alliance is designed to help shrink that gap. Students will participate through stipends, internships conferences, and mentoring.”

According to Jenda, this initiative splits into six different hubs. Auburn will be both leading the initiative and be the center of the Southeastern Hub. Each of these hubs will be in a different part of the U.S. and include:

Benefits of this Program:

  • Peer and faculty mentoring
  • Research opportunities
  • Financial support

Key Goals of the Initiative:

  • Increasing the number of students with disabilities completing associate, undergraduate, and graduate degrees in STEM
  • Easing the transition of STEM students with disabilities from degree completion and the workforce
  • Improving upon the communication among universities, industries, government, national labs, and local communities in addressing the educational needs of students with disabilities working within STEM disciplines

“This major award from the National Science Foundation will allow Auburn and collaborating institutions to foster a more diverse workforce while improving educational opportunities for disabled students,” said James Weyhenmeyer, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development.

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