By LEE JOHNSON | Nashville Voice
Tennessee State University has received $2 million in funding to support undergraduate and graduate students.
One million dollars is a grant from the National Science Foundation and will provide 30 scholarships to students who are pursuing master’s degrees in engineering or computer science over five years., according to TSU officials.
“We are strategically focused to increase our enrollment through the graduate program and increase our research activities in advanced materials, cybersecurity, and data sciences and analytics,” said Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering at TSU. “We recently reformed our graduate degree programs in engineering, and this funding will allow us to recruit talented students to pursue a master’s in engineering or computer science.”
As part of the College’s strategic plan, the goal is to increase graduate enrollment by at least 25 percent in areas of research.
In addition to financial support, the program will include cohort building activities, graduate student support services, seminars, summer internships, and mentorship.
Dr. Frances Williams, the project’s Principal Investigator (PI) and associate dean, said the “measures are crucial in providing for recruitment, retention, and graduation of graduate students.”
“This is imperative as the United States is faced with a human resource challenge in its need to produce more domestic scientific and engineering talent with advanced competencies,” she said.
The other million dollars is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and will be used to bolster undergraduate students’ interest in agriculture, as well as science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
In addition to scholarships, TSU officials said the funds will aid students’ professional development by allowing them to “travel to different professional conferences and meetings to gain exposure to what’s being done.”
USDA State Conservationist Sheldon Hightower said the agency is pleased to partner with TSU because it has a “tremendous agriculture program and collaborates with the other STEM colleges to bring the latest innovations and technology to the industry.”
“From a state perspective, we want to engage more students in agriculture,” Hightower added. “Through this partnership agreement with TSU, we hope to develop a well-qualified, diverse applicant pool in STEM to meet the future workforce needs of NRCS and throughout USDA.”
Earlier this year, TSU President Glenda Glover surprised 20 students who visited the university with scholarship offers if they planned to major in a STEM course and have a good grade point average.
Amesa Tidwell, who attends Whites Creek High School in Nashville, was among the students who visited TSU that day.
“I was completely stunned,” said Tidwell, who plans to major in biology. “I had no idea I was going to be offered a scholarship. Thank you TSU!”