McHenry County College will offer up to $10,000 in individual scholarships to at least 40 students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields during the next five years.
The scholarship program will be funded through a $650,000 National Science Foundation grant. It aims to help more talented students with significant financial need obtain degrees in STEM fields, and improve the education of future scientists, engineers, and technicians through innovative partnerships and programs.
"Our goal is to get 10 students into this program this fall," said Rob Smith, co-project director. "We're going to be sending out emails to all the students who have applied to MCC."
Women, minorities, people with disabilities, and first-generation college students are encouraged to apply for the STEM scholarships for this fall. A deadline has not been set.
It's the second-largest grant the Crystal Lake college has received in its 50-year history. MCC received a five-year, $1.29 million Upward Bound grant last year from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare high school students for college education.
Students accepted into the STEM program will receive one-on-one guidance from a faculty member, personalized tutoring, work with a professional mentor from McHenry County's STEM industries, and have opportunities for research and internships. Students will learn more about the range of career possibilities in STEM fields, locally and regionally.
"We are thrilled that we are able to provide so much support to incoming MCC students preparing for the many exciting career opportunities available in the STEM fields," said Maria Taydem, dean of mathematics and sciences. "This program, combined with the opening of our new Liebman Science Center, will provide students with a top-notch start to their STEM careers."
Work on the $16.8 million science center is expected to be completed this summer. It will be open for fall semester classes.
MCC currently offers associate degree programs in robotics, graphic design, mobile application development, and network security. Students also can earn an associate of science or engineering sciences degree and transfer to a four-year college to pursue degrees in biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering, mathematics, and physics.
Employment in STEM occupations grew by more than 24 percent in the past decade compared to 4 percent for other occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. On average, workers in STEM careers earn 29 percent more than those in other professions.