In 1991 all STEM programs at The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) were organized into the College of Science, Mathematics, and Technology (CSMT). With a student body composed of 90% Hispanics and more than half first-generation college students, the CSMT embraced the opportunity to expand STEM education opportunities to this underserved community. Bachelor of Science degrees are offered in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering Physics, Engineering Technology, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Environmental Science, Mathematics and Physics. STEM majors may also choose a BS degree with teacher certification under the UTeach program. The mathematics and physics programs offer a five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree. CSMT’s campaign to academically prepare STEM students begins at the high school level where math and science faculty assists teachers in aligning their curriculum to college and career readiness standards. The college includes a Mathematics and Science Academy where high school students earn their diploma while taking university courses.
CSMT goals are to: (1) institute an academic support system addressing the needs of Hispanic STEM students; (2) form cohorts of STEM majors; (3) initiate a mentor and tutoring program to support the STEM cohort; (4) create multiple avenues for students to pursue a STEM degree; (5) increase student retention; (6) increase graduation rates; (7) provide opportunities for authentic research; and (8) establish a program to improve college readiness of entering freshmen.
CSMT is establishing itself as the center for preparing the next generation for STEM careers in the region. In 2012, CSMT faculty members assisted 81 math and science high school teachers with college ready curriculum alignment affecting an estimated 11,000 students. CSMT undergraduate students have the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge authentic research with internationally recognized faculty members enhancing their academic experience and preparing them for STEM career after graduation. The 2010- 2012 graduation rate increased 25.6% over the previous three years. Additionally, enrollment increased 11.7% from 2010 to 2012. Following the formation of a STEM Learning Community, the 2010-2012 cohort performance indicators included (1) a 77% retention rate while the university’s overall average was 61%; and (2) improved academic performance in College Algebra: 70% of cohort students passed with a “C” or better as compared to 52% of non-cohort students; and in Chemistry: 86% of cohort students passed with “C” or better as compared to 59% of non-cohort students. Lastly, through close relationships with business and industry, students are placed in internships each semester.