Development of technical leaders for the 21st century has become a critical need for the United States to maintain its global leadership in a technology-based economy. The highly successful LDP under the direction of Dr. Bruce DeRuntz in the College of Engineering (COE) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) has demonstrated the ability to build a professional STEM workforce for tomorrow to help meet this need. For the past nine years, the COE LDP has shown success with a 95% pre-graduation placement record, significant increases in timely graduation and increased corporate sponsorship for this program and its graduates.
I am thrilled to work with Dr. DeRuntz to expand this program and to help make it available to other STEM majors across the SIU campus. The NSF notified us of the nearly $1M award a few weeks ago and we are rapidly ramping up our recruitment efforts for this fall.
The new program is called Pathways to STEM Leadership (PSL).We plan to use support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to expand our existing S-STEM scholarship program in the COE into the other three SIU STEM colleges, as well as the College of Science, College of Applied Science and Arts, and College Agricultural Science. We seek to help remove economic barriers that might prohibit today’s first-generation dominant college student demographic from achieving a professional career through this STEM scholarship program. Additionally, this scholarship program will serve to improve the recruitment, retention, graduation rates, and job placement of traditional four-year students and students transferring into the SIU STEM colleges. Through the propagation of the highly successful LDP into the other SIU STEM colleges, this project will create pathways for excellence in leadership among a community of STEM majors and prepare even more graduates for the professional STEM workforce of technical leaders.
Expansion of the LDP across the STEM colleges has potential to multiply these benefits in the STEM workplace, as well as increase positive societal outcomes in community service and STEM engagement. The demand for a diverse technical leadership will be lessened by the technical leaders we produce here. Formalizing a best-practices technical leadership model (i.e. the PSL) has the potential to be adopted at other institutions in STEM fields and thus become a competitive advantage for US businesses and society.
We expect the following outcomes:
- Increased undergraduate enrollment
- Increased opportunity for underserved and economically disadvantaged students
- Increased undergraduate diversity
- 90% graduation rate
- Increased job placement of STEM graduates
For more information about this exciting award, please read the University’s press release.