SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica College has been selected to receive a MUREP Community College Curriculum Improvement (MC3I) grant by NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).

The $250,000 grant will provide training for professors within the STEM discipline (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Created by the 2014 Education Opportunities in NASA Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (EONS STEM) research initiative, its objective is to “financially support and advance individuals early in their careers in NASA related disciplines, who demonstrate the potential to contribute to NASA’s mission and NASA future STEM workforce, through the use of innovative research ideas; increase the number of historically underrepresented and underserved populations, such as women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans, pursuing advanced degrees in STEM disciplines,” as well as  “develop a highly trained quadrat of researchers and scientists whose skills and competencies directly contribute to the Nation’s STEM work force.”

SMC, an institution focused on helping underrepresented minority students, has used recruiting, special counseling, introductory courses, summer bridge programs and countless other opportunities to promote science and math related courses.

The community college currently has 176 students in its SMC-UCLA STEM/SRI program. Within the courses, 50 percent identify as Latino or Hispanic, 9 percent African-American, 48 percent female and 52 percent has low income backgrounds. The students in STEM/SRI have been given the opportunity to apply for a lab-based 10-week internship program at UCLA and a week-long research residency.

SMCC Campus
SMC Campus

In November 2011, SMC received a $5.8 million 5-year federal grant to work with UCLA to promote study in the STEM fields. “The grant is considered particularly important as the U.S. strives to be globally competitive in the science-related professions and as it seeks to improve the percentages of underrepresented minorities – in this case, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans and women – in these fields,” says SMC.

The U.S. Department of Education has granted $37 million in awards to 34 California community colleges as well as dozens of Hispanic-serving institutions statewide to promote educations in STEM programs.

Both grants provide students and faculty with hands-on experience for both acquiring and teaching the necessary tools “to pursue a NASA-related career.”

“We are a perfect fit for this grant. Santa Monica College is dedicated to advancing achievement for our underrepresented minority students – and this includes bringing more of them into STEM-related majors. We are excited to see how this will not only enhance our students’ preparation for careers NASA will benefit from, but also close the achievement gap,” said SMC Interim President Jeffery Shimizu.

Baltimore City Community CollegeNapa Valley College, and Queensborough Community College were the only other colleges that received a MUREP MC31 grant. It will be given every year for a maximum of three years.