Upper Iowa University has been designated as a STEM Jobs Approved College. The special recognition is for colleges and universities that provide broad and innovative STEM degree options for undergraduate students, actively recruit under-represented and under-prepared students into STEM degrees, as well as offer targeted student support systems and career services to help students succeed.
“Being selected for this designation, reflects the emphasis that we (UIU Department of STEM faculty) place on individually mentoring our students,” said Dr. Nigel George, professor of mathematics and physics. “From this added support, the students gain specific career-related knowledge, sharpen their career skills, and engage in opportunities that further demonstrate initiative and leadership. Each of these aspects further polish the students’ identity and expertise as emerging professionals in STEM fields.”
George explained the Department of STEM faculty supports students through STEM-specific sections of the college success course by helping them form a peer support network. In addition to the individual mentoring, student retention, graduation, and career placement rates are improved by guiding students to the resources they may need to ensure their success, such as the UIU Writing Center, Tutor Center, STEM Success Center, and academic supports through the Office of Student Development.
Dr. Kata McCarville, associate professor of geosciences, noted that beginning in the first year of a UIU student’s education in a STEM-related course, the University provides opportunities for its students to travel to visit potential STEM employers, participate in STEM conferences and professional organizations, and investigate STEM career options through guest speakers and job shadowing experiences. In addition, the students have the opportunity to earn credit for internships at some point in their program, and all seniors complete a capstone research project.
“The need for more STEM professionals is a national priority and so when (UIU) President (William) Duffy says that each of us here at the University is doing great things for America, the Department of STEM is a great example,” McCarville closed. “STEM professionals grow the economy, at the local, state, regional and national levels, and in the Department of STEM, UIU produces graduates who can hit the ground running as they enter their chosen careers.”
To be designated as a STEM Jobs Approved College, colleges and universities are credited for meeting the following criteria:
- They have aligned their STEM programs with high paying jobs that are in demand.
- They have programs, resources and relationships that help their students get jobs.
- They are attracting and supporting diverse students and faculties in STEM fields.
- They have specific resources dedicated to supporting STEM student achievement and success.
More than 1,600 schools participated in the STEM Approved Colleges application process and UIU was only one of six Iowa schools selected to the 2015 inaugural list.