Boston University Metropolitan College Awarded $500,000 from National Science Foundation

in Metropolitan College, News Releases, Science & Technology
October 4th, 2006

Contact: Kira Jastive, 617-358-1240 | kjastive@bu.edu

(Boston) – Boston University today announced that its Metropolitan College (MET) has received a five-year, $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award will be used to provide partial scholarships for up to 25 freshmen annually for a total of about 100 students over the five years who are enrolled in MET’s full-time undergraduate Science and Engineering Program (SEP).

These scholarships will be continued through University funding beyond the freshman year. New students who apply to enter SEP in fall 2007 will be reviewed for eligibility for the scholarships, which are based on both academic merit and financial need. The goal of the program is to provide students with the funds needed to help them obtain a degree the sciences or engineering.

“Previous studies have shown that getting through the first two years is crucial to successful completion of a degree in these fields,” said Carla Romney, associate professor and chair of SEP.

However, according to data compiled by Romney and her colleagues through an anonymous survey, many SEP students report that they pursue part-time jobs or athletic or ROTC scholarships in order to help fund their undergraduate educations. These obligations entail a significant time commitment and may conflict with the time needed for study.

“In the past, some students who entered SEP did not earn a degree in the sciences or engineering because their outside commitments were overwhelming,” said Romney.

According to Romney, the key to bolstering the workforce in technical fields over the long-term is retaining students in the sciences and engineering.

“By providing qualified students with some support, we can help them focus on their academics by reducing the time they have to work or participate in activities that may interfere with their classes, thereby increasing their chances of graduating with a science or engineering degree,” said Romney.

“This is wonderful news for Boston University and for our students,” said BU President Robert A. Brown. “With this funding, Metropolitan College’s Science and Engineering Program is poised to help keep more students moving toward careers in these important fields.”

SEP’s two-year science core curriculum provides extensive laboratory work and a solid foundation in mathematics, physical and biological sciences, engineering, social sciences, and English. Students in SEP pursue majors in all areas of science and engineering. After successful completion of the program, students complete a Bachelor of Science degree at BU’s College of Engineering or a Bachelor of Arts degree at BU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“As the largest grant in the history of Metropolitan College, this award from the National Science Foundation honors our commitment to fostering a challenging yet supportive educational environment for students who want to pursue a degree, and ultimately a career, in the sciences or engineering fields,” said Jay Halfond, dean of MET. “The proportion of America’s college students obtaining engineering and technology degrees has declined from 32 percent to 27 percent in the last decade, and minority and female students are even less represented. We are at risk of losing our global competitiveness. SEP represents a modest but important means for enticing young students to pursue applied sciences.”

Freshmen scholarship recipients will be selected by Boston University’s Office of Financial Assistance. Scholarship recipients who meet BU’s guidelines for renewal of support will be funded through University scholarships for three remaining years of full-time enrollment. With this support from the NSF, Boston University will be providing about $1.6 million of scholarship support for future engineers and scientists over the next five years. As part of the program, scholarship recipients will engage in extensive career exploration and participate in internship programs to reinforce their educational experience with “real world” applications.

As one of the 17 degree-granting bodies that comprise Boston University, Metropolitan College (MET) offers part-time, full-time and international students a remarkable range of choices for study to enrich their lives and advance their careers. MET offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, diploma and certificate programs. For more information about Metropolitan College visit www.bu.edu/met/ and for information about SEP visit www.bu.edu/met/sep.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU contains 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.

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