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News Release

Date: December 19, 2006
Media Contact: Elizabeth Homan, 301-251-7970; Steve Simon, 301-251-7952

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Montgomery College Wins U.S. Dept. of Education Grant to Increase Number of Women and Minorities Pursuing Engineering Degrees

Montgomery College’s science, engineering, and mathematics area was awarded a three-year, $471,142 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to boost the numbers of women and minorities at the College who pursue engineering degrees.

Over 45 percent of all professional engineers nationwide have attended community colleges, yet there is a lack of documented strategies that target women and minority engineering students.

To address the national call for doubling the number of graduates in engineering by 2015, the grant, “Project Portal to Success in Engineering,” is based on the premise that competency in mathematics is necessary for success in engineering curricula. Students will receive specialized support in mathematics courses with an emphasis on understanding the use of technology and mathematics.

Mentoring, academic coaching, and supplemental instruction will be provided in other key “gateway courses” in engineering, physics, and chemistry. Undergraduate research will be an integral part of the program in order to prepare students to transfer to four-year engineering programs.

“The FIPSE grant allows us to expand the ‘best practices’ that promote student success to a wider group of students,” said Judy Ackerman, vice president and provost of the Rockville Campus. “The old national paradigm was to use mathematics and science courses to weed out students from engineering programs. At Montgomery College, we are committed to a new paradigm to help students succeed in these key courses so that they can complete engineering majors.”

The grant’s goals include: an increase in minority and women transfers to four-year engineering programs during the grant period, and the implementation of a model engineering education transition program comprising secondary education, community college, and four-year college/university collaboration in the outreach and teaching efforts at the local high school level; inquiry-based instructional methods; a variety of student support systems, including extensive career and transfer advising, peer support, and collaborative learning; structured program articulations between two-year and four-year colleges and universities; and professional development opportunities for faculty.

For more information, contact Professor Sanjay Rai, dean of science, engineering, and mathematics, at 301-279-5031 or; or Miriam Carter, assistant to the deans, at 301-279-5357 or

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Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md. The College serves nearly 60,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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