Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

An Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions: A Framework for Producing Minority Scientists in NOAA-Related Disciplines

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

An Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions: A Framework for Producing Minority Scientists in NOAA-Related Disciplines

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

An effective partnership with Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) has been established with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Building on a commitment to increase research collaboration with MSIs, a collaborative program developed by NOAA and its MSI partners has led to a significant increase in the education and graduation of students from underrepresented communities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that support NOAA's mission. NOAA's Educational Partnership Program (EPP) with Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) was established in 2001 with a primary goal to increase individuals trained in STEM fields from which NOAA may select its future workforce. The program uses the National Science Foundation (NSF) data and internally developed performance metrics to illustrate a measurable impact on national statistics. To date, over 900 undergraduate and graduate students have benefited directly from educational and research experiences through the EPP and over 340 secondary (middle school and high school) students have participated in EPP activities designed to encourage students to pursue degrees in STEM fields. The EPP framework demonstrates that an effective partnership, with best practices, and concrete examples of success is available as a template for institutions and agencies working to replicate these successes.

INTRODUCTION

During the past ten years, issues associated with the number of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have been at the center of numerous discussions, studies and Erograms. These efforts have been conducted in good iitn and in some cases have led to positive outcomes (American Council on Education, 2006). However, the baseline in the late 1990s offered considerable opportunity for improvement. For example, some growth in the number of racial/ethnic minorities with science and engineering doctorates occurred between 1987 and 1996, out with the exception of Asians, this growth was marginal at best. African Americans held 2.5% of science and engineering doctorates awarded during the period 1987-1991. This value increased to only 2.8% between 1992 and 1996. (National Science Foundation, 1999).

A similar trend is found among doctoral scientists and engineers employed in colleges and universities between 1985 and 1995 (NSF/SRS, 1995). These statistics, coupled with a strong desire to make significant improvement in these data, a commitment to diversify the workforce and the need to prepare a succession plan to address the aging workforce led to the next step. The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a consortium of 10 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) collaborated to establish the foundation and framework for NOAA's Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) described below. For the purpose of this program, NOAA uses the U.S. Department of Education s definition of MSI.

The overarching goal of the EPP is to increase the number of students from underrepresented communities who take coursework and graduate with degrees in STEM fields that directly support NOAA's mission. At The U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA is committed to ensuring that its workforce is diverse and that the next generation of scientists is given the opportunity to contribute to the services provided by NOAA. As part of its succession planning efforts, NOAA supports EPP's programs to build capacity at MSI's that have programs with track records of training and graduating students in STEM sciences, to ensure that there is a cadre of well trained scientists from which the agency may select its scientists and leaders to meet its workforce needs.

BACKGROUND

In 1997, the leaders of eight HBCUs received invitations from former DOC Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, Dr. …

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