Northern Virginia Community College and Virginia Tech recently received a $5 million grant from the National Science Federation (NSF) to promote engineering transfer student success. U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced the grant and their support of this collaboration, which will also benefit Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) and its students. The three higher education institutions will work together to ensure the success of the program called the Virginia Tech Network for Engineering Transfer Students (VT-NETS).
The NSF grant was awarded to Bevlee Watford, associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. Watford will serve as the principal investigator for the grant. Dr. Chad Knights and Abe Eftekhari – deans of Math, Science and Engineering at NOVA-Alexandria and NOVA-Annandale, respectively – partnered with Virginia Tech to write the grant proposal in May 2016. NOVA will receive roughly $1 million of the grant funding over a four-year period.
The funds for the program will “establish stronger networks between these institutions and increase the success of engineering transfer students following the community college-to-bachelor's degree pathway,” according to a press release from Sen. Kaine. “This competitive grant will support scholarships for low-income students in community colleges seeking to transfer to four-year institutions and pursue a career in the engineering field.”
Through VT-NETS, prospective engineering transfer students at Northern Virginia Community College and Virginia Western Community College will receive regular invitations to Virginia Tech and will have the opportunity to participate in distance-learning seminars and classes focusing on research and professional development. The students will also participate in the Rising Sophomore Abroad Program which focuses on global engineering.
Engineering faculty from all three higher education institutions will research efforts to advance understanding of how various factors affect the success, retention, transfer, and graduation in engineering for low-income students, and coordinate research opportunities for incoming students.
“We are confident that our three institutions will collectively benefit from this partnership, and we hope to inspire others to do the same,” Knights said. “Continuing to build and strengthen effective community-college-to-bachelor's-degree pathways in STEM fields is crucial to meeting the workforce demands of the 21st century. We at NOVA are extremely proud to be partnering with VWCC and Virginia Tech on this key initiative here in the Commonwealth.”
VT-NETS will design and test curricular and co-curricular activities that support the transfer of students to four-year universities and has the potential to lead to more collaborations between two-year and four-year colleges and universities in the future.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.