Grant funds ‘industry standard’ equipment

Rubi Martinez

Pierce College is being awarded a $3.4 million STEM grant-for science, technology, engineering and math-by the U.S. Department of Education to be used over the course of two years.

The award was given after Pierce was recognized for being a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) as part of the College Cost Reduction Act (CCRA).

Pierce President Robert Garber said, “This grant is to fund services, programs and equipment to improve science education and to target all students, but particularly to make sure that STEM are accessible to Hispanic students.”

He added the grant will “make a stronger environment for students.”

Only institutions with full time-equivalent enrollment of at least 25 percent of Hispanic students are eligible for the grant. In the Fall 2007 semester, Pierce clocked in at 29 percent, according to the National Center for Statistics.

There are only about 245 institutions considered HSIs across the country.

According to grants coordinator Mark Pracher, the grant has four phases. The first phase of the grant will be used to purchase “laboratory instrumentation more for life science, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, oceanography, environmental science, auto and animal Science.”

Astronomy professor Carolyn Mallory said, “Faculty will be crazy happy to have decent equipment, programs and computers…with which to teach their students. Students will be well served if they have industry-standard equipment to lean on.”

Another phase of the grant, Pracher added, will consist of, “Develop(ing) new curriculum in the green areas (such as) solar, wind-alternative power, clean-water technology.”

Articulating programs such as tutoring to complement the new courses and the fourth phase of the grant is to hire a councilor to provide guidance to students in any of the S.T.E.M. fields.

“Every bit of money spent on education benefits both the individual student and also America,” Mallory said. The grant is to be distributed over a period of two years, starting from Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2010.

The school will get $1,477,000.00 the first year and $1,941,000.00 the second.

“It’s amazing that happens this way,” Pracher said. “It’s a total surprise.

“We have money from the Feds to develop curriculum, now we have Proposition J funding to start funding and to start giving a place to be,” he said.

Measure J, which will provide $3.5 billion to the Los Angeles Community College District for building and renovation, was passed Nov. 4 with nearly 70 percent of votes.

Garber said, “The time is perfect because at the same time we’ll be finishing the construction of the science building.”

Money from Propositions A/AA was used to build the new Center for the Science, which will be ready by 2010.

“This bond is not meant to substitute the dollars we have on bonds A/AA, but it will allow us to do more,” Garber said.

Chemistry 102 students work in the chemistry lab on Thursday, Nov. 6. The chemistry department is one of the recipients of new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) grant that will bring $3.4 million for the college. ()

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