State grant adds $600,000 in funding for in-state science, math majors at Miami

Officials say they are excited for potential impact on improving diversity, Ohio’s science-based economy.

Miami University’s STEM programs just got a $600,000 boost thanks to a state grant designed to encourage more in-state students to pursue science-related careers.

The science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Ohio grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) will help Miami’s College of Engineering and Computing recruit and support more than a dozen Ohio students per year studying robotics, manufacturing or automation, said school officials.

The Choose Ohio First (COF) grant is the largest of its kind for Miami and officials said they are excited by its potential impact on improving the school’s diversity and Ohio’s science-based economy in the coming years.

“As part of the largest number of institutional grantees in COF history, (Miami’s) proposal to provide STEM scholarships will help improve Ohio’s workforce capacity to innovate and grow our economy,” wrote Randy Gardner, chancellor of the ODHE in a letter to recipients.

Miami officials said the school will primarily use the grant to support incoming first-year students focusing on fields of study that include robotics engineering, manufacturing engineering and process control.

Fazeel Khan and Kumar Singh, both professors in Miami’s Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, are spearheading Miami’s COF efforts. The two recently launched a project to better align engineering programs at Miami with industry needs in robotics, automation and advanced manufacturing.

“The Choose Ohio First funding will help fuel Miami’s new academic initiatives to shift … while also fueling the state’s goals for improving workforce training and the number of people entering into STEM disciplines,” Khan said.

Singh said the grant will also allow the college to improve its diversity to include more students from underrepresented groups.

“We hope we can use this funding to support those students who are really interested in these programs but may be financially in need,” Singh said. “We hope this funding can help create more access to these fields and engender greater diversity among our student body.”

The COF scholarship program began in 2008 in an effort to increase the number of Ohio students enrolling in and successfully completing STEM programs at Ohio’s public and independent colleges and universities.

Miami has previously received two four-year COF grants for the Bioinformatics scholarship program (2013-2021), which has provided annual scholarships of up to $5,000 for more than 75 students totaling $375,000.

Beena Sukumaran, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, said the $600,000 grant “provides financial assistance to students from socioeconomic backgrounds that cannot afford a high quality college education in an area of regional and national need such as engineering.”

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