Engineering students are first cohort to begin path to combined degrees through NSF funded program

large group of people posing for a photo and wearing masks
Engineering students who are in the inaugural cohort of a NSF grant funded program are pictured with faculty members during an orientation meeting in the Innovation Design Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Engineering faculty members and administrators received a five-year, $967,000 NSF grant to recruit and support students from low-income backgrounds in the combined BSE/MSE program.

The students met May 14 at the Innovation Design Center, on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus, and heard remarks from Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing; Jeffrey Potteiger, dean of the Graduate School; and Christine Rener, director of the Pew FTLC and vice provost for Instructional Development and Innovation. 

Sanjivan Manoharan, assistant professor of engineering, said the grant will provide scholarships and the program's supporting infrastructure. Manoharan and Shabbir Choudhuri, professor and director of the School of Engineering's Graduate Program, will oversee the grant program.

Zakary Smith, a junior from Bedford who is majoring in mechanical engineering, said he was interested in joining the cohort after learning about the opportunity from Manoharan.

"We talked about the different projects that I would be working on along with the other students in the cohort and the opportunities to network with different companies and universities along the way," Smith said. "The benefits of an accelerated program seemed like a good opportunity to advance my engineering knowledge and grow as a leader."

Rebecca Gosner, from Grand Rapids, is majoring in electrical engineering and said earning a master's degree in one year is a great opportunity to learn more about "the most interesting engineering program."

"I always thought of electricity and circuits as a confusion of magic and mystery so learning how it actually works is really fascinating," Gosner said.

Choudhuri said over the course of the grant, 30 students will receive one-on-one faculty mentoring and engage in networking and job shadowing opportunities.

Jeffrey Potteiger, dean of the Graduate School, talks in front of students who are seated at tables.
Jeffrey Potteiger, dean of the Graduate School, talks to engineering students who are in a combined bachelor's/master's degree program.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts


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