UH Engineering receives grant

The UH Cullen College of Engineering received $300,000 from the Texas Workforce Commission to create a plan to recruit students who are underrepresented in its engineering program.

TWC awarded $2.4 million to 11 colleges and universities throughout the state. The grant is a part of the Texas Youth in Technology Strategic Workforce Development Initiative.

UH received the grant based on the need to increase enrollment of students who have been underrepresented in the past.

‘Grant recipients are chosen based on programs that will increase post-secondary enrollments, retention and graduates in engineering and computer science,’ Lisa Givens, Senior Communications Executive of TWC, said. ‘Texas youth in technology grant funding is awarded based on available funding, program descriptions and demonstrated needs in the target areas.’

According to the UH Office of Institutional Research, the Cullen College of Engineering had a total of 2,565 students enrolled in its program in 2008, with African-American students totaling 152 students, 6 percent of the total student population, and a total of 453 Hispanic students, making up 17 percent of the student population.

African-American and Hispanic students represent the two smallest groups in the engineering college. Some Hispanic leaders on campus said this will benefit Latinos.

‘Mainly with the Latino population, one of the concerns regarding students staying in school is the economical struggle many have to endure,’ Carlos Reyes, a member of the UH Student Government Association and Hispanic Business Student Association said. ‘So keeping that in mind, as long as we can make a difference in the lives of at least a few students and make sure they are able to finish their education, (this is) a benefit for UH.’

The grant is a part of Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas Industry Cluster Initiative.

Educating our youth in advanced skills is one of the greatest tools we have to continue positioning Texas as a national and global economic leader,’ Perry said in a May press release. ‘Through support from the Texas Workforce Commission, these initiatives provide the foundation for future high-tech workforce success.’

The initiative promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics in tomorrow’s workforce.

The Cullen College of Engineering has degree programs that have ranked in the top 10 nationally.

‘We developed this transformative program to give additional academic support to students pursuing their engineering degree at UH,’ Fritz Claydon, associate dean for research and professor of electrical and computer engineering, said in a UH news release.

Claydon is the principal investigator on the grant.

‘Though the curriculum is rigorous, our academic workshops and mentoring programs have made a measurable impact on the performance of our students,’ Claydon said.

Reyes is optimistic of how this program will gain more Hispanic students.

‘ ‘(Hispanic students) will look at how much support they will have, how the program is structured and above all if it’s feasible. If Cullen can show that it will go above and beyond for our Cougars, I’m sure that the Hispanic population will be more than motivated to apply,’ Reyes said.

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