Cockrell School Receives $220,000-plus to Recruit, Retain Engineering Students

May 21, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — In a state-wide effort to support job-growth opportunities in technology areas, the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has received a $221,841 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission to recruit and graduate students in engineering.

"Educating our youth in advanced skills is one of the greatest tools we have to continue positioning Texas as a national and global economic leader," said Gov. Rick Perry. "Through support from the Texas Workforce Commission, these initiatives provide the foundation for future high-tech workforce success."

The grant, awarded through the Texas Youth in Technology Strategic Workforce Development initiative, will support the workforce development initiative at the Cockrell School called Changing the Conversation, which aims to increase post-high school enrollments, retention and the number of engineering graduates—in particular women and underrepresented minority groups.

Changing the Conversation, which borrows its name from a recent report published by the National Academy of Engineering, is a collaboration among the Cockrell School's Equal Opportunity in Engineering Program, Women in Engineering Program and the Texas Girls Collaborative Project.

The money will be used to: award scholarships to graduating high school seniors; create engineering on-campus jobs as peer tutors and peer assistance leaders; and provide stipends to teachers and counselors to attend workshops and collaborative forums. About 3,000 students will be affected by the grant from June 2009-August 2010.

Project managers are Tricia Berry, director of the Women in Engineering Program and the Texas Girls Collaborative Project, and Andrea Ogilvie, director of the Equal Opportunity in Engineering Program.

"We are seeking to 'change the conversation' about engineering by educating high school students, undergraduate engineering students and teachers on the impact of creative, innovative engineering on our world and our lives," Berry said.

Working with the Texas Engineering and Technical Consortium, the program also will increase collaboration among Texas employers, colleges and universities, and collegiate engineering and science departments.

"A diverse workforce, skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is critical to the future economic success and competitiveness of Texas," said Arturo Sanchez III, Texas Engineering and Technical Consortium chair and Texas Instruments manager of workforce development.

The Texas Workforce Commission awarded 11 Texas Youth in Technology grants statewide, totaling more than $2.4 million.

For more information, contact: Daniel Vargas;  Tricia Berry, Cockrell School of Engineering College of Engineering, 512-471-5650.