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STEM Grants

STEM Grants

We develop and apply for grants in that are centered around career development, bridge programs (transitioning students from high school to college), makerspaces, fabrication design challenges (for secondary/post-secondary students) and teacher professional learning (for secondary and post-secondary instructors). These grants have focused on specific populations, primarily under-served and underrepresented populations in STEM and military-connected students.

Awarded Grants

Perkins V Grant Overview

In 2018 the President reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act of 2006 by signing the Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century Act. The federal act provides support for CTE programs with a focus on modernizing and improving the academic and technical achievement of secondary and postsecondary students. Perkins funding at NOVA is distributed to the College through the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Community College System.

Perkins V has focal points to improve accountability, strengthen connections between secondary and postsecondary education, expand professional development for staff and faculty, improve CTE pathways for special populations, and provide career exploration and preparation. NOVA’s is focused on identifying and implementing strategies to improve outcomes for all students in CTE programs; especially in supporting the development of in-demand skills identified by industry through programs at the NOVA Fab Lab and through the Career and Leadership Readiness Institute (CLRI).

Through the Fab Lab and the CTE Coordinator, NOVA will implement collaborative programs and activities to support career exploration, employability, and technical skill attainment. Students will utilize NOVA’s makerspace, engineering design challenge, fabrication camps and SkillsUSA chapter to collaborate in the design and fabrication of solutions to challenges.

NOVA is providing students with career exploration and career development activities through an organized, systematic framework designed to aid students, including the middle grades, before enrolling and while participating in a career and technical education program, in making informed decisions about future education and career opportunities and programs of study. This includes:

Analyzing relevant labor market information to develop career-based programs and activities that provide a pathway that links secondary and postsecondary education to in-demand careers.

Providing NOVA information nights focused on career exploration and career awareness, including nontraditional fields for secondary and postsecondary students.

Producing the CLRI to assist students in making informed decisions about future education and employment while providing workshops and activities to build skills that will support employability.

Emphasizing CLRI as an opportunity for special populations, defined in Perkins V as individuals with disabilities; individuals from economically disadvantaged families, including low-income youth and adults; individuals preparing for nontraditional fields; single parents, including single pregnant women; out-of-workforce individuals; English learners; homeless individuals; individuals who are in, or have aged out of, the foster care system; and individuals with a parent who is a member of the armed forces and is on active duty.

Developing career activities specifically designed to prepare nontraditional* gender students in IET fields for internships, workplace readiness, etc. (i.e. women in IET).

Footnote: *Perkins V defines nontraditional gender individuals as individuals where their gender comprises less than 25 percent of the individuals employed in the related occupation or field of work.

Building an Industry-aligned Pathway to Careers in Cloud Computing
Award Abstract #1800988

This project represents a partnership with community colleges, industry, regional high schools, and universities to establish an industry-aligned pathway in cloud computing. Technology sectors have shown significant demand for cloud-certified information technology professionals. Collaboratively-developed and industry-led curriculum in cloud computing will lead to a Cloud Fundamentals Certification, stackable toward an Associate of Applied Science with Cloud Specialization. This project leverages existing collaborations among the institutions to create labs and share curriculum development best practices. The target audience for the project will be two-year college students, including veterans and incumbent workers. This project addresses the national call to increase the supply of qualified technicians proficient in cloud technology.

In a survey of Tech Chief Financial Officers, cloud computing was selected by 74% of those surveyed as the technology that had the most impact on their business in 2017. The goal of the project is to establish an industry-aligned pathway in cloud computing to increase the supply of qualified technicians with proficiency in cloud technology. Project goals will be achieved by working with industry partners who will provide expertise and guidance in curriculum design. The project will develop products that will be disseminated to other institutions including: a new industry-led curriculum in cloud computing, a cloud literacy initiative, a professional development community of practice, and an outreach plan for military veterans.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

DCO Tech: Expanding Regional Capacity for Training in Engineering Technology and Data Center Operations
Award Abstract #2055717

Common software systems, such as those based on artificial intelligence, often require a cloud-based computing infrastructure. As cloud-based computing has expanded, so has the need for the data center infrastructure needed to support it. Data centers require significant capital investment, as well as ongoing operational maintenance. Because of tax incentives enacted by the state legislature, data centers are expanding rapidly in Virginia. As data center capacity expands, a trained engineering technology workforce is required to run these data centers. To address this urgent need, this project will expand the engineering technology program at Northern Virginia Community College by improving the recruitment and education of qualified technicians. By fostering a community of practice between industry, secondary educators, and college faculty, the project team plans to improve the workforce pipeline for engineering technology in the northern Virginia region and ensure that students have the skills required to be successfully employed in the data center industry.

This project intends to advance understanding about the efficacy of bridge programs to promote recruitment of underrepresented minorities into higher education. It will also examine the efficacy of bridge programs and internship preparation for improving student career attitudes and readiness. It expects to increase the regional supply of engineering technology technicians through the following activities: (1) a two-week summer bridge program focused on career exploration and hands-on learning; (2) an internship preparatory program designed to support students in developing career readiness; (3) an externship for high school educators and industry professionals to develop first-hand knowledge of regional career pathways for engineering technology; and, (5) a veterans outreach program to inform military-connected students about the College’s engineering technology programs. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Supporting Instructors to Embed Design Thinking in Digital Fabrication Courses
Award Abstract #2055324

Manufacturing and engineering industries face a looming gap in skilled workers, with an estimated 2.4M positions projected to go unfilled by 2025. This project aims to help fill this gap by improving the preparation of the needed technical workforce. To do so, it will establish a Professional Learning program in design thinking pedagogy for secondary and postsecondary educators. The curriculum will focus on design thinking projects that involve digital fabrication techniques, including 3D printing, laser engraving, and Computer Numerical Control milling. The Professional Learning program is expected to improve the educator' teaching practices and enable them to update existing curricula and lesson plans to better align with industry relevant skills and techniques. The project also intends to create a community of practice around design thinking in digital fabrication that will build a beneficial network among secondary teachers, community college faculty, makerspace educators, and regional employers. It is expected that the project will support 36 secondary and postsecondary educators who will teach more than 3,000 K-12 and undergraduate students in the northern Virginia region. These students will have greater interest in and be better prepared for technical careers in manufacturing and engineering.

The overarching goal of the project is to use Professional Learning to move digital fabrication instruction beyond the reproduction of simple objects. Instead, the project will train educators to use pedagogy and cognitive strategies to embed design thinking into their digital fabrication lessons and courses. As a result, students will learn to use design thinking to build complex, useful objects. The project’s specific aims include to: (1) create a professional learning institute; (2) host digital fabrication summer camps at NOVA and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington; (3) host a semiannual design and digital fabrication challenge; and (4) establish an online resource library of projects and lesson plans created and refined by educators in the community of practice. The project is expected to advance: understanding of the pedagogies that help to develop student interest in manufacturing and engineering; the capacity for Professional Learning to facilitate integration of design thinking into classrooms and makerspaces; and the extent to which a capstone design challenge may foster sustainable change in instructional practices. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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