BBCC Receives Nearly $4.8M Grant to Bolster STEM Services

Big Bend Community College will be able to improve its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) services for its professional and technical programs thanks to a new $4.8 million Title III grant for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) from the Department of Education— the largest of the six HSI grants BBCC has received during the last eight years.

The grant is right on time as the demand for STEM-focused workers in Washington is extremely high. It also comes on the heels of some huge strides and recent successes in BBCC’s academic STEM-related programs.

In 2014-15, 473 Hispanic students were enrolled in STEM programs — an increase of 449 students over a six-year period (2008-09). Enrollment in college-level math classes at BBCC is setting records, more than doubling since 2009. There have been waiting lists for calculus classes for the first time in school history and enrollment in Engineering Physics has tripled.

This new U.S. Department of Education HSI “Transforming STEM Pathways” is a five-year project that will not only provide BBCC professional and technical students increased support and better advising and peer-mentoring opportunities — it will also fund the development of two new transferable degree programs in Computer Science (AS) and Manufacturing Technology (AAS). 

The grant also contains a $345,000 (matching) endowment that would allow Big Bend to fund its PAC (Peer Advocate Coach) program in perpetuity and about $2 million for new equipment that would include cutting-edge technology in robotics.

The college used the previous academic-focused STEM grant to implement the pre-college math model known as Emporium, which has received state and national recognition for greatly increasing BBCC student success in completing developmental math courses.

The computer software-based Emporium model helped increase student success rates in developmental math from a little less than 50 percent to nearly 80 percent. The lab has computers for 62 students with up to seven sections offered per quarter.

It is common for BBCC students in the Emporium lab to pass two developmental math classes (10 credits) in one academic quarter while paying for only one five-credit class — helping students save time and money. As more students pass developmental math, more students enroll in college-level math classes.

BBCC has partnered with the engineering teams of local industries like Genie, REC, and SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers to better inform students of local STEM opportunities and occupations.

Big Bend Community College has received a total of $21.7 million in grants from the Department of Education during the last eight years.

BBCC is eligible to receive Title V grants for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) because of the demographics and income levels in its service district population. HSI grants have goals and strategies for helping more Hispanic students complete college degrees. The support services and benefits derived from HSI grants are available to all students and residents of BBCC’s service district.

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