UHD Receives $349,000 Workforce Grant for STEM Students’ Career Training
By Mark Kramer
The University of Houston-Downtown received a $349,772 grant from the Governor’s Texas Workforce Investment Council that will provide underrepresented Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students with career training and learning experiences.
“We appreciate the Office of the Texas Governor, which has moved to evidence-based opportunities such as the Texas Talent Connection Grant Program. The program encourages universities to enter the training venue as supplemental to the regular curricular offerings,” said Dr. Mary Jo Parker, Executive Director of UHD’s Scholars Academy. “UHD undergraduates will reach another distinctive level of competency, while Houston’s industries will see this as a prime opportunity for the training or re-training of employees.”
According to the Texas Talent Connection website, the program is funded by Wagner-Peyser 7(b) federal funds, which are provided to each U.S. Governor’s office on July 1 each year for this type of project. Parker said the grant will be used to provide students with training in various areas of cybersecurity, software development, biotechnical engineering, robotics, and more. UHD subject matter experts in these areas will lead the sessions throughout the year.
“The goals of this program will be to improve skill levels in precollege, undergraduates, and currently employed workforce members in cyber and other security sectors,” she said. “We also intend to improve career-building skills for all and forge partnerships with industries and workforce in the Greater Houston Area. The most prominent goal is to improve marketability for our STEM undergraduates in the technology sectors for immediate job placements.”
In addition, Parker noted that the program will include the involvement of Greater Houston Partnership members, area school districts, and the Gulf Coast Workforce Board.
At the completion of the students’ training, they will be encouraged to complete certification in their chosen career paths.
“According to industry experts, encouraging preparation for certificates in the security areas are increasingly important, Parker said. “Our program will be essential to our students gaining future employment.”
Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, shared his support of UHD’s STEM programs and stressed the need for qualified cybersecurity and technology professionals.
“We have a long and deeply rooted collaboration with the University of Houston-Downtown and its innovative programs,” he said in a recent published report. “UHD graduates feed many of the STEM careers in the Houston region. The partnership seeks to ensure that the region’s employers have access to a qualified and skilled workforce, particularly in the middle and advanced STEM-related occupations that are critical to the Houston economy.”
Parker shared that the grant for this upcoming STEM related program perfectly aligns with UHD’s new mission.
“I believe offering what Houston industries and the workforce needs truly commands UHD as an anchor institution,” she said. “Our College of Sciences & Technology graduates are finding employment with key STEM industries already, so with this additional training for undergraduates and the Houston workforce community, this sets UHD up as a university of choice.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.