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Math, Science Departments Receive $500,000 NSF Grant for New Scholarship Program

RELEASED: Oct. 3, 2006

UW-Eau Claire Seal of ExcellenceEAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the "Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics" scholarship program.

The initiative will provide approximately 20 students who major in science or mathematics and demonstrate financial need and academic potential with scholarships and opportunities to enhance their academic programs. Science majors include biochemistry/molecular biology, biology, chemistry, computer science/software engineering, geology, physics and pre-engineering.

Dr. Michael Howe, associate professor of mathematics, is the program director and author of the grant proposal.

Howe said ESTEAM scholars will receive scholarships of up to $10,000 a year (renewable up to four years) as well as support in the form of faculty and peer mentoring, student/faculty research opportunities, capstone and independent study opportunities, career counseling that includes preparation for graduate school, and service-learning and internship opportunities.

"This NSF program was very competitive and the success of our proposal is a clear affirmation of the strength of UW-Eau Claire's programs in science and mathematics," Howe said.

Increasing the number of graduates in science and mathematics will increase the number of highly skilled workers who can enter high-tech fields, Howe added.

"That's good news for those in high-tech industries who tell us they can't find enough qualified Americans to fill the high-tech jobs available in this country," Howe said. "The financial support will allow these students to concentrate on their academic careers and take full advantage of the tremendous opportunities the science and mathematics programs at UW-Eau Claire offer."

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich said he's impressed by UW-Eau Claire faculty's ability to secure substantial funding through highly competitive NSF grant programs.

"I'm constantly impressed by the quality of our faculty both in terms of their talents and their commitment to their students," Levin-Stankevich said. "They create innovative programs that will enhance student learning, and then secure the funding necessary to support those initiatives. That's extremely difficult given the level of competition for grant dollars."

The ESTEAM initiative will provide math and science students with tremendous opportunities that will better prepare them to succeed in today's knowledge economy, Levin-Stankevich said. And that's good for Wisconsin business and industry as well as for the students, he said.

The ESTEAM program was funded through the NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program which provides scholarships for academically talented students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who demonstrate financial need, according to the U.S. Department of Education guidelines.

The UW-Eau Claire Foundation has committed to raise an additional $100,000 to support students who receive funding from the NSF grant. Foundation President Carole Halberg said the Foundation will promote the NSF support in its fundraising efforts and will seek additional support from alumni, regional employers and emeriti faculty.

"We will take this opportunity to ask that these sources support the ESTEAM program long after the completion of the initial NSF grant," Halberg said.

For more information, see the ESTEAM Web pages.

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JW/JB

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