QU receives grant that will fund new STEM majors on campus

By Alexa Low

Quincy University received a $2.25 million Title III-A grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Title III is a five-year project that awards QU money in equal increments starting in Spring 2019 and ending in Spring 2023.

Timeline of money will be used for each area

Each year, QU receives a $50,000 endowment match which is dependent on donors contributing to the project. The endowment can add up to $100,000 each year which will gain interest and eventually aide in scholarships.

Four big projects will be started that relate to the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields of study.

The four areas that QU will be focusing on are math, cybersecurity, business analytics, and undergraduate research.

Each area will be appointed a coordinator who will be in charge of making sure that area reaches its goals and they will keep in touch with the project director, Dr. Barbara Schleppenbach.

Schleppenbach, associate professor of communication, was selected as project director because she participated in the last grant QU received. The grant requires someone committed to being the project director who has already been a director for another grant.

“It is very competitive. A very tiny, tiny fraction of schools get these grants. They are given out on a two year cycle and we got it,” Schleppenbach said.

Professors who are coordinators will be donating most of their time to Title III which will limit the time they will have to teach. All will commit 50 to 100 percent of their time to the grant while the remaining percent is for teaching.

As the director, Schleppenbach will be writing a report every week detailing all goals that are being met, project progress, and adherence to a budget.

Schleppenbach hopes that once the community sees what QU is doing with the grant, it will inspire more donors which will lead to more opportunities for students.

“Starting something new is always fun. Spending some time promoting it and letting people know what is going on and that it can impact them in some way,” Schleppenbach said.

Math

There will be a new introductory math course that will use technology and experiential learning.

Previous QU math courses will be modified to add a math lab and more math tutoring opportunities.

“Every one of these new program gets a lab and gets a coordinator. That is the basis that we put in there to grow beyond the five years of the grant,” Schleppenbach said.

A math coordinator will be hired and start next school year.

While these all occur in the first year, a math collaboration room and two active learning classrooms will be introduced in later years.

Cybersecurity

While the math project helped existing resources, cybersecurity will be a brand new major.

“Anybody who likes puzzles can take the codes and cyphers class. If you like to do crosswords, the daily jumble or word search, you can take that class and the logic behind that leads you into cybersecurity,” Schleppenbach said.

Francis Hall 246 will be turned into a cybersecurity lab.

The University decided to add this major after noticing such a strong demand for employees in this field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • The median pay is $98,350 per year and $47.28 per hour
  • Entry level education is a bachelor’s degree
  • no on-the-job training
  • 100,000 jobs in 2016
  • Job outlook from 2016-2026 is 28 percent

QU is in the process of hiring a professor for the cybersecurity position.

Business Analytics

Business majors are made up of marketing, accounting, finance, and management students. Business analytics will be the fifth major.

The new business analytics major is a cross-functional business degree. Students will be focusing on three primary analytics areas: descriptive analytics, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics.

Descriptive analytics uses data to prepare for further analysis, to attempt to understand causes of events and behaviors. This data is always in the past and doesn’t help to explain why something happened.

Predictive analytics is used to make predictions about unknown future events. It uses techniques such as data mining, statistics, modeling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence when analyzing data for future predictions.

Prescriptive analytics is dedicated to finding the best course of action for a given situation. It uses both descriptive and predictive analytics.

Dr. Dana Walker, the assistant professor of business at QU, is the business analytics coordinator.

He uses FedEx as an example of prescriptive analytics. If they have forty trucks at their distribution center, how do they optimize the schedule so that their drivers aren’t working more than eight hours a day, driving too many hours, and maximizing service to customer etc.? Business analytics helps to figure all of these problems in a way that helps everyone.

Supply-chain management, healthcare, marketing, and accounting are all areas that have a high demand for business analytics majors.

While people can use business analytics technology, it has grown to be more sophisticated, making the need for those who can select the appropriate analytic tool and data then interpret the results much higher.

“Because you have this business insight and you know how to use the tools, you’re extremely valuable to someone when you go to look for work because you have that extra set of skills,” Walker said.

The major requirement encompasses the Bonaventure program along with marketing, finance, and accounting classes.

Those who graduate in 2021 or 2022 will likely be the first QU classes to graduate with a business analytics major.

Business professors have had many students express interest in the major, even those who have recently graduated or will be graduating in 2019.

To accommodate all who would like to take advantage of the course, they are offering it as a second major rather than a master’s degree. This allows students who have completed most of the prerequisite course to finish 18-22 hours to earn a bachelor’s degree in business analytics.

There will be more personnel hired to teach the major. However, the School of Business is looking into conference call courses online using software such as Zoom and Cisco Webex so that students who have already graduated will not have to come back to QU’s campus to complete their 18-22 hours.

Undergraduate Research

Dr. Michelle Combs, assistant professor of biology, will be the coordinator for undergraduate research.

She will assist in a new lab set to debut in Fall 2020 and teach research-focused courses in biology and chemistry.

Some of the new resources include:

  • Tissue Culture Hood
  • Gel Image Capture
  • -80 degree freezer
  • UV Spectrophotometer
  • Reverse Osmosis Water Machine
  • Benchtop Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Instrument
  • IR Spectrophotometer
  • HPLC Instrument
  • Gas Chromatograph

A sophomore introduction to research course will be added for those who wish to pursue research.

STEM students who actively research during undergrad are 16 percent more likely to attend STEM graduate school or STEM professional programs.

Research is one of the leading factors to help students get accepted into graduate school.

Combs was chosen because of her experience with the academic symposium that is hosted at north campus every year.

The academic symposium showcases the study that students have done in their chosen fields and offers scholarship money to those who win.

Faculty members in the science field will get the opportunity to attend conferences to learn what the best kind of research is, how to find said research, and best practices.

News Reporter

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