The university has received a $3 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a program designed to expand research and career-readiness opportunities for undergraduate STEM students.
While the NSF STEM grant funds many projects annually, it only gives one Institutional Transformation Project award each year, and Cal Poly Pomona Intentional Venture Engaging STEM Students (CPP INVESTS) was this year’s recipient.
“I know that a lot of institutions had applied,” said Co-Principal Investigator and Engineering Professor Winny Dong. “Cal Poly Pomona was picked out of all of these institutions, so this is important for our university and team because the NSF thinks it will be successful.”
The team of twelve behind the CPP INVESTS program plans on using this grant to make learning by doing more accessible and innovative.
“Some aspects of this grant, like undergraduate research, existed previously, but not many students took advantage of the programs,” said Principal Investigator and Associate Vice President of Academic Innovation Olukemi Sawyerr. “Innovative elements that will be introduced through this grant include micro-internships and a digital credentialling and badging program using the Badgr platform to digitally record the skills and competencies students obtain through their curricular and co-curricular experiences.”
The CPP INVESTS program focuses on addressing educational inequalities and better preparing CPP students for the workforce. Implementing micro-internships, which are short-term, project-based internships, and broadening undergraduate research opportunities allows for more CPP students to partake in these programs. The badges students achieve through Badgr can be included in resumes and will highlight student achievements. Students can receive badges for projects completed, leadership skills, and other accomplishments.
“This grant will allow us to innovate,” Dong said. “We now have the people power and funding to implement course-based research, and we will have additional resources to enhance what the campus is already doing.”
This NSF HSI STEM ITP grant will be used to provide students with experiences that are attainable for all, regardless of commitments outside of school. With the CPP INVESTS program, students will be able to complete research and micro internships during school hours so the conflict between these activities and student responsibilities, such as jobs or other commitments, is greatly reduced.
“Here at Cal Poly Pomona, we are focused on undergraduate education, and we do a good job of preparing our students for the future,” Sawyerr said. “We now have more opportunities to prepare students for the workforce and address inequities in workforce preparedness. We are more than thrilled that the NSF has funded the CPP INVESTS project.”