Spotlight on Success: Grants and Swarmathon Winners

CPD awarded $12 Million apprenticeship grant from the Department of Labor
(Grant Principal investigator – Dr. Sallie K Janes)
San Jacinto Community College District, in partnership with three other Texas college districts – Alamo Community College, Dallas County Community College and Austin Community College–and industry partners; IBM, Lockheed Martin, Cerner Corporation, Cisco Systems and Rackspace will receive funding through DOL’s Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grant program. The Texas is IT! Project, led by San Jacinto College/CPD Department, will train 5,000 apprentices and pre-apprentices over 48 months to satisfy job training and employment needs in Information Technology (IT) occupations throughout Texas. Texas is IT! will seek out non-traditional populations of IT workers, including those unemployed or underemployed, and work in collaboration with job center offices under the Texas Workforce Commission, to provide diverse populations access to the benefits of IT apprenticeships.

These grants are funded through H-1B visa fees, which are paid to bring foreign workers to America when Americans cannot be found to fill open jobs. Nationwide, the awards totaled $183.8 million to 23 educational institutions to support more than 85,000 apprentices in new or expanded apprenticeship programs and increase apprenticeship opportunities for all Americans. These groups include veterans, military spouses, and service members transitioning into the civilian workforce; and groups that are underrepresented in apprenticeships such as women, people of color, and Americans transitioning from the justice system to the workforce. Industry partners will provide partial matching funds to the institutions to develop in-demand skills as part of these programs.

National Science Foundation Awards LSAMP grant ($1.5 Million) to SJC
(Grant Principal Investigators – Dr. Laurel Williamson and Professor Sharon Sledge)

San Jacinto College has been awarded a $1,477,907 National Science Foundation grant to encourage more students to study and complete degrees in STEM fields. The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) grant will focus on the unique needs of our minority students and help them to acquire the knowledge and behaviors to successfully obtain STEM degrees at the Associate and Baccalaureate levels.

The grant will create a new alliance led by San Jacinto Community College, joined by Houston Community College, and will be led by SJC math professor Dr. Sharon Sledge. Dr. Sledge will work to identify and create a “Community of Scholars,” designed to be a nurturing environment for the typical commuter-student population at both SJC and HCC. This community will then provide academic supports such as research and internship opportunities, faculty mentors, comprehensive advising, and peer tutoring programs and workshops. The proposed activities will increase student engagement and involvement, provide clear advising, and utilize our strong articulation agreements with four-year institutions to achieve the ultimate goal of the grant, the successful transfer of community college STEM students into baccalaureate degree programs.

Swarmathon Winners (supported by National Science Foundation Bridge to STEM Grant)
(Grant Principal Investigators – Nate Wiggins, Jim Meeks and Norman Liebling)

Each year NASA challenges robotics teams from colleges nationwide in a Swarmathon, an event designed to use “Swarmies,” small robotic vehicles equipped with sensors, webcam, GPS and Wi-Fi antennas that can be programmed to communicate and interact as a collective swarm. The competition engages students in developing algorithms that could one day be used in space exploration and NASA’s Mission to Mars. This year a combined team of students from San Jacinto College and University of Houston-Clear Lake competed in the fourth NASA Swarmathon at Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida. The San Jacinto-UHCL team took first place in the Mission to Mars competition, and third in the physical competition, bringing home $1000 in prize money. The group also had the opportunity to present their work to multiple college and NASA groups. Funding for the students and advisors to attend and participate in this event was made partially through the Bridge to STEM Career Grant from National Science Foundation.

The NSF grant program is the cooperative efforts between SJC and UHCL to build a bridge for students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields to transfer into STEM programs offered at UHCL. Designed to engage, recruit, retain and graduate students in STEM fields, the program will address obstacles that students face in degree attainment such as the lack of student engagement (with peers, faculty, campus services and career opportunities) and financial needs. The program will provide 30 students with scholarships, 5 students with opportunities to attend professional conferences and make professional presentations, and 15 students to participate in UHCL STEM research projects. Nate Wiggins, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Engineering is Primary Principal Investigator of this NSF grant, Bridges to STEM Careers and AI-Tech labs, at San Jacinto College.