15:11 PM

UHD Awarded Grant Supporting STEM Workforce Development

The Office of the Texas Governor recently acknowledged institutions across the state for their efforts in supporting workforce development and professional growth. Among the organizations recognized by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is the University of Houston-Downtown's (UHD) Scholars Academy.

The Scholars Academy, among the recipients of the governor's 2018 Texas Talent Connection (TTC) grants, will receive nearly $500,000 to expand programming for UHD's STEM Training Center for Underrepresented Workforce.

For two years, this summer program has engaged area high school and undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities. With the support of the TTC grant, the Center will continue delivering STEM learning experiences during summer 2019.

Next year's activities will be coordinated under the title, Career Ready. Students will work in UHD labs honing research and team-building skills under the guidance of mentors. They also will receive professional development training, such as resumé and cover letter writing, interviewing, and other skills essential to career success. Likewise, they'll gain insights on the process of applying to graduate programs, the significance of internships and the importance of strong leadership skills.

"This program will help in developing a skilled workforce in our region," said Dr. Mary Jo Parker, director of the Scholars Academy. "As both a Hispanic and Minority-Serving Institution, UHD can assist in preparing underrepresented populations for careers that will ultimately benefit our city and state."

Career Ready students also will gain knowledge of high-tech industries prevalent in the Houston area, including healthcare, oil and gas, computing, manufacturing, biotechnology, and others.

Partners in next summer's Career Ready programming, include the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, Baylor College of Medicine, UHD Admissions Office, UHD Career Services, TXRX Labs, Houston Transtar, FANUC America, Houston Museum of Natural Science - Wiess Energy Hall, Houston Independent School District, and Aldine Independent School District.

"Working with our terrific community partners, this grant allows our students increased opportunities to develop their technical and soft skills for jobs interviews and success as well as graduate and professional programs," said UHD College of Sciences & Technology Dean, Dr. Akif Uzman.

UHD's TTC grant is one of 13 awarded in 2018 to bolster workforce training and job placement programs across the state. This is the second year these grants have been awarded by the Texas Workforce Investment Council in the Governor's Economic Development and Tourism Division.

"Texas leads the nation in private-sector job creation because of our highly skilled workforce," said Gov. Abbott in a release issued on June 25. "When we asked Texas employers what the most important factor is for future job growth and business expansion, the top answer is continued access to a skilled and flexible workforce. With the $5 million in Texas Talent Connection grants announced today, we are connecting more Texans to in-demand skills training and connecting more employers to work-ready skilled Texans, so they can grow even more good-paying jobs in the Lone Star State."

UHD's Scholars Academy promotes scholarship and student success for the University's undergraduate students majoring in STEM disciplines. The Academy promotes enhanced learning experiences though smaller classes, modern labs, hands-on experience, and flexible course options. Students also explore STEM topics through research activities and community engagement initiatives.

Career Ready is an example of UHD’s commitment to the Houston Guided Pathways to Success (Houston GPS) initiative. This multi-institutional partnership fosters collaboration among area colleges and universities with goal of helping students graduate on time with less debt. Additionally, Houston GPS is focused on streamlining the transfer process between local community colleges and universities.