Title III Grant: STEM project fires up new opportunities at QU and beyond

Image of science student in the lab

By Shane Hulsey

Quincy University launched its Title III project, “Expanding Student Access to STEM,” on Oct. 1, 2018. The five-year project is funded by a $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education Strengthening Institutions program.

The project’s five-year goals include increasing enrollment and the graduation rate, adding new programs in science and technology, improving the success of students in mathematics, expanding participation in undergraduate research, and adding $500,000 to QU’s endowment.

Program coordinators have outlined goals they hope to achieve by 2023.

New programs will include Cybersecurity and Business Analytics as well as an expansion of computer science; each program will feature an updated lab. The Cybersecurity Lab and Virtual Reality/Robotics Lab debuted in 2019.

The program coordinators are excited about the potential the Title III project has to transform QU.

Math Success Coordinator Nathan Averbeck, Ph.D., spoke of the revamped math program and its emphasis on self-paced learning.

“We’re looking at ways to bring students into active learning activities,” he said. “This could include taking a portion of the class and explaining problems to each other in a non-threatening way. It’s not standing in front of the class. It’s working together and working through problems together.”

Cybersecurity Coordinator Lavanya Mandava, Ph.D, said the importance of cybersecurity in today’s society presents a great opportunity with which students can work towards a career.

“We’re only going to see a growth in big data and the internet,” she said. “(Cybersecurity) is a really good platform and industry for students to start with.”

Undergraduate Research Coordinator Michelle Combs, Ph.D., said QU’s undergraduate research program will help prepare students for their profession, whatever that may be, after college.

“Participating in research as a science will help develop creative thinking as well as analytical skills and problem solving,” she said. “Research by nature takes a tenacity and a motivation that is suited to their work afterwards.”

Computer Science Program Specialist Husam Ghazaleh, Ph.D., said the QU STEM program has a breadth of resources unlike most programs of any size.

“The money we put into robots, the money we put into cybersecurity, labs, equipment, and servers, there are some big programs that don’t have these things, so take advantage.”

The endowment match is a powerful way for donors to be part of the Title III project. Each year, the Department of Education will match $50,000 in donations.

To learn more, contact Vice President for University Advancement, Julie Bell, at bellju@quincy.edu.

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