Johnson C. Smith University has received $1.8 million in grants to expand its STEM program and expose students at two schools in west Charlotte to computer science and other forms of technology.
Through the initiative, students at West Charlotte High School and Ranson International Baccalaureate Middle School will participate in technology-oriented after-school programs and summer sessions at JCSU to get them thinking about STEM careers. Many of the students will come from disadvantaged communities and have not had a lot of exposure to the high-tech industry. JCSU officials say the program will give them more hands-on STEM experiences and make them better prepared when they enter college. The program will also focus on getting the students to focus on STEM entrepreneurial opportunities.
A JCSU press release says students will work closely with the students at both schools as mentors over the next three years. Some of the funds will also be used to purchase equipment and other materials to broaden the university’s STEM program Market-driven courses will be offered and summer programs that focus on technology and entrepreneurship will be offered to entering freshmen.
“JCSU's faculty and staff are ready to accelerate our impact for creating a strong STEM workforce in the innovation economy. With this additional support, we will be able to continue on the university’s radical trajectory,” Dr. Hang Chen, dean of JCSU’s College of STEM, said in the press release.
JCSU officials say the long-term goal of the initiative is to expand the initial pilot program at the two schools to students in kindergarten through the college. The initiative is funded by the Kenan Charitable Trust and the U.S. Department of Education.
This past summer, Google funded a STEM program at JCSU for 20 incoming students. In addition to sending Google employees to the university, two JCSU professors spent six weeks at Google’s Faculty-In-Residence program.