UHD STEM Training Center for Underrepresented Future Workforce

State
Texas
Academic Level
Baccalaureate
Issue Area
Retention
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Career/Workforce,
Undergraduate Research

Overview

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) in partnership with local school districts and a workforce board, delivers programs to pre-college students, current undergraduates, and upper division undergraduates near graduation to advance their awareness of and preparedness for STEM careers. In conjunction with all partners, the STEM Training Center aims to meet the following annual objectives: (1) Increase the number of underrepresented STEM pre-college and college-goer competencies needed in the workforce through its annual programming; (2) Offer pre-college and undergraduate tuition support to improve affordability of college STEM degree attainment and to ensure full-time status during the course of the project; (3) Train participants in occupational/career soft skills, leadership, and team-building skills for the workplace, entrance into university study, graduate programs, and job acquisitions.

Program Description

All PhDs partnering with the STEM training program have several years of experience working with underrepresented students. They come together with the above mentioned three groups for: (1) an academic 6-Saturday program and the intensive 15-day summer workshop program supporting training and mentored STEM laboratory research training, including new instrumentation usage such as 3-CAD and 3-D Printing training, inverted microscopy use, robotic arm use for automation, robots and artificial intelligence, and electrophoresis gel and PCR uses; (2) scholarship/research training stipends and internship placements for current underrepresented undergraduates (3) training in occupational/career soft skills, leadership and team-building skills to assist with gaining employment with Houston-based industries or application to/acceptance into graduate programs or professional schools.

Outcome

  • Participants in all three groups generate over 100 hours of lab time. For approximately 114 per summer, all participants totaled 920 research lab hours each year for a four-year total of 3,680 hours of research in labs. Over the four year period, 116 hours of career skills made up this part of the program. Each year, the precollege participants moved up to the next grade level. Grade ranges of participants include all high school grade levels and graduates.
  • Among 28 undergraduates 100% applied for internships/summer research; 32% were accepted to present at a research conference; 100% applied for scholarships; 100% advanced to the next semester at UHD, this data translated across the four years.
  • Among Undergraduate Research leaders: selected to present at research conferences 100%; obtained interviews and jobs 100%; graduating in May 61%; entering graduate programs 5%; entering workforce 61%; advancing next UHD semester 39%.