UHD STEM training center program receives national recognition


The STEM Training Center for Underrepresented Future Workforce at the University of Houston-Downtown received national recognition from Excelence in Education for its commitment to student success.

The UHD program was named among the finalists for the 2021 examples of the organization of Excelencia, recognizing higher education programs supporting the academic and professional ambitions of Latino students across the country.

Based in UHD scholarship academy, the STEM Training Center for the Under-represented Future Workforce is one of the 21 universities in 23 states and Puerto Rico that have been recognized by the Higher Education Advocacy Organization for its efforts to support positive outcomes for Latino students. As a finalist, the center claims to be among the four programs officially recognized as Examples of Excelence. The winners will be announced during the virtual conference Celebration of Excelence October 28.

Over the past three years, UHD’s STEM training Center for the Under-represented Future Workforce provided Houston-area high school students and UHD undergraduates with summer science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM) programs.

According to Scholars Academy Executive Director Dr Mary Jo Parker, more than 450 students have participated in the centre’s programs, with the majority of students being Hispanic or under-represented.

Parker said students have benefited from working with UHD mentors and faculty on lab projects that meet the needs of various industries. Hands-on activities prepared students for careers in oil, gas, or chemical refineries, as well as emerging technology industries such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Likewise, the students also addressed issues related to cancer and environmental research.

The UHD STEM training center for the under-represented workforce has already been recognized by the Texas Workforce Board and the Governor’s office. Community partners included the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, Baylor College of Medicine TXRX Labs, Houston Transtar, FANUC America, Houston Museum of Natural Science – Wiess Energy Hall, Houston Independent School District and Aldine Independent School District.

“Students participating in the program had more opportunities to develop their technical and general skills for job interviews and also to prepare for graduate and professional programs,” Parker said.

Parker added that the initiative has served as a model for other science-focused programs at UHD, including the National Transportation Summer Institute. This program was conducted in July 2021 and the students learned structural analysis, safety management, solar grid and electrical engineering. In addition, program participants broadened their knowledge of the development of land, air and space drones.

Examples of Excelence was established in 2005 and is the country’s only national effort to spotlight initiatives and programs that improve the success of Latino students in higher education. Each year, it receives nearly 2,000 applications and rewards more than 350 programs. In addition, it has awarded more than $ 2 million to support programs for Latino students.

“Examples of Excelence identifies evidence-based programs that show, with intentionality and impact, what it really means to serve Latino students, not just enroll them, ”said Deborah Santiago, Co-Founder and CEO, Excelence in education.

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Milton S. Rodgers

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