Engineering Majors: Grants Drive Diversity
Wanted: Women and Minorities
Engineering is considered one of the critical STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Historically these are the disciplines in which minority students in general, and women in particular, have been most under-represented. In an effort to correct this imbalance the Federal government, along with many private and professional organizations, are sponsoring grants and scholarships for deserving minority students who are pursuing their higher education in these critical fields. Excellent sources for Engineering Grants include:
- Federal and State governments
- Colleges and Universities
- Professional Organizations and Private Businesses/Industries
Determining which Engineering field you wish to study will help help narrow your list of grant choices to those that best suit your situation. By specifying your field of interest you can eliminate many grant programs for which you do not qualify, or which are unsuited to your college goals. Major Engineering specialties include:
- Environmental Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Software/hardware/computer Engineering
Federal and State Student Grants
Federal and State governments recognize the need to diversify, and expand, the body of students pursuing their college studies in the STEM fields. Many grant programs are available at both a Federal,and State level, to make post-secondary education in these disciplines more accessible to minorities and women. These programs should be your first stop along the road to college funding.
To apply for any Federal government financial aid you must first fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This application process allows the government to determine what Federal or State financial aid programs you may be eligible for, and is a prerequisite to applying for any government student aid programs.
There are a number of Federal grants open to all students, including minorities and women, who are pursuing their studies in the STEM disciplines. They include:
- The Federal Pell Grant is available to undergraduate and graduate students in all fields of interest including the STEM subjects. Qualifications are need-based with priority given to minorities and women from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or FSEOG, is open to undergraduates studying any discipline who demonstrate an exceptional financial need.
- The Academic Competitiveness Grant provides grant money to eligible students studying one of the STEM subjects in an accredited university. Requirements include a 3.0 GPA as well as financial need.
- The National SMART Grant awards grant money to qualifying third and fourth year undergraduates who are pursuing studies in the fields of Science and Mathematics.
Many of the Federal governments individual departments and agencies also offer grant programs for students pursuing specific STEM disciplines. For example, NASA offers the Aeronautics Scholarship Program, while the National Science Foundation offers a number of grant programs ranging from the biological sciences to computer sciences.
College and University Grant Programs for Engineering Students
Realizing the need for an influx of talent in the STEM fields, and Engineering in particular, most colleges and universities are offering grant opportunities to qualified students. Many of these grants are specifically targeted to benefit women and minority students, and can be lucrative additions to your college fund. Some of these grant programs are nationally-based, while others will be specific to each individual college. Some examples of these multi-university grant programs include:
- The Minority Male STEM Initiative - This program, supported by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, is designed to help participating universities retain and graduate minority students in the STEM fields. Currently fifteen universities across the country take part in program.
- The HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities) STEM Fellowship – This program is designed to benefit graduate and post-graduate students studying in the STEM disciplines at one of the nationally recognized Historically Black Colleges and Universities of America.
Many more of the engineering and STEM related grant programs are available from colleges and universities across the country. Check with the financial aid adviser at your college of choice for programs exclusive to your university.
Professional Associations and Foundations
Hotbeds for scholarship and grant money, as tuition grants or for research and travel, these organizations invite student members and treat those motivated to excel to scores of grants and educational opportunities.
Many professional associations and foundations have created grant opportunities as a way to perpetuate their field of expertise, and to diversify and expand their membership. Knowing that any scientific field only thrives when the successful help and encourage the young, these organizations make grants available to students taking up studies in particular fields specific to that association. Examples of these association grants include:
- The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) awards annual research grants to doctoral and post-doctoral scholars studying and doing research in advance electrical engineering.. Eligible applicants must have undergrad degrees in an engineering science. Awards can be as large as $17,000.
- The National Physical Science Consortium sponsors Graduate Fellowship Grants for Minorities and Women. This program seeks to draw scholars from under-represented groups and support their studies in a number of engineering specializations. Large fellowship grants are awarded as incentive to graduate students interested in studying for their PhD in an engineering specialty.
Many such organizations provide grant programs for women and minorities in an effort to bring them into the STEM fields and revitalize the classroom as well as the national workforce.
For women and minorities looking to break into the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics there is a great amount of grant money for college to be found. Stay diligent and investigate every opportunity that may be open to you.