A major, multi-year grant to Hope College from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will help meet the national demand for engineers by providing scholarships and supplemental programs for academically talented students with high financial need who plan to pursue careers in engineering.

The $999,061 grant is through the NSF’s “Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) Program,” and will support a total of 15 students in two cohorts.  Hope will be recruiting current high school students across the present and next school years for enrollment starting in the fall of 2021 and fall of 2022.

“There is a national demand for engineers and we have the capacity and desire at Hope to produce high-quality engineers,” said Dr. Courtney Peckens, who is an associate professor of engineering and the principal investigator on the grant.  “The goal of the S-STEM program is to attract a strong cohort of students through the scholarships, which will aid in laying the foundation for numerous programs.”

Students who intend to major in engineering who are eligible for awards through the Federal Pell Grant Program will be eligible for the initiative at Hope.  Through the Hope program, they will receive a $10,000 scholarship each year for four years in addition to the other financial aid for which they qualify via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The students will also become part of an academic learning community centered on their participation in the program and interest in engineering.  Across their first two years at the college, they will receive additional support including faculty and peer mentoring; a mathematics-based summer bridge program shortly before the start of freshman year; a First-Year Seminar course developed specifically for them; supplemental instruction, research and internship opportunities; and a vocation-focused diversity and inclusion seminar series.

“This is a good fit for Hope because we are large enough to offer an outstanding and robust engineering program yet small enough to be able to make a priority of truly engaging with our students,” Peckens said.

The engineering program at Hope offers a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in engineering that is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.  The degree includes courses in general education, mathematics, science and engineering, as well as electives within the program that allow specialization in a variety of concentrations:  biochemical engineering, biomedical engineering - bioelectrical engineering, biomedical engineering - biomechanical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, environmental engineering and mechanical engineering.  There are currently approximately 150 declared engineering majors.

Peckens is running the new NSF-funded project along with three Hope colleagues who are co-principal investigators on the grant:  Dr. Matthew Smith, associate professor of engineering; Dr. Gerald Griffin, associate provost and associate professor of biology and psychology; and Dr. Kathy Kremer, senior director of assessment and accreditation in the Frost Center for Data and Research.