UNH Awarded $600,000 National Science Foundation Grant for Engineering
UNH Awarded $600,000 National Science Foundation Grant for Engineering

by Karen Grava
Director of Media Relations

UNH has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to boost engineering student retention rates.

The five-year grant permits the University’s Tagliatela College of Engineering to participate in A Scholarship Program to Increase Retention in Engineering (ASPIRE), an NSF initiative to increase the retention rate of engineering students, especially those from underrepresented groups and with financial needs.

The program will permit the University to provide scholarships to sophomore- and junior-level students who have both financial need and have demonstrated merit.  UNH will also award scholarships to community-college transfer students, and provide support services including engineering tutors and mentors to guide the students.

UNH has received a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to help boost engineering student retention rates.

“One of the benefits of awarding scholarships to these students is that they will gain confidence and more time to participate in the extracurricular programs, including service, internships and other activities that the college has to offer, reducing the need to work to support their studies,” said Ronald Harichandran, dean of the Tagliatela College.  “Our data shows that 85 percent of UNH students need financial aid.  However, the university cannot fully meet all of their needs. The average gap between financial aid and what is still needed for engineering students enrolled in 2010-11 was $7,400, which makes it very difficult for students with families – particularly women – to complete their degrees on time.”

Many students in the UNH engineering program must work at least part time, the dean noted, and each year more than 20 percent reduce their course load to part time so they can work more hours.

Benefits of the program will include allowing some of those students to remain as full time, improving academic performance, allowing students to graduate in a shorter amount of time, and helping students focus more on academics during their sophomore and junior years.

“The scholarship program also will encourage students to complete the engineering internship requirement of the college during the summer while they are not taking a full course load,” said Jean Nocito-Gobel, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UNH and principal investigator on the grant.

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