SAN ANTONIO – A project at Texas State University hopes to advance education research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM.
STEM is growing at Texas State University. A few months ago, the university opened the Bruce and Gloria Ingram Hall science and engineering building.
The building cost $120 million and was made possible through a combination of donations and support of the Texas Legislature.
"Well I think that the project was pretty amazing," Alejandra Flores, manufacturing engineering student said. "We're getting more funds and we're getting more people out there to come and invest in us."
This is only one piece of the STEM puzzle. A $2.5 million grant aims to advance STEM education research at Texas State University.
"The focus of the grant is on creating faculty-student communities at Texas State," Flores said.
Dean of Texas State's Honors College, Dr. Heather Galloway leads the five-year grant from the National Science Foundation's division of undergraduate education.
"Texas State has seen the number of science and engineering students double over the last decade. So we have twice as many students as we had just ten years ago," Galloway said.
University officials tell us in 2008, there were 2,804 undergraduates in the College of Science and Engineering. In 2018, that number had grown to 5,882.
"So, we have funding to support professional development for faculty. We have funding for faculty who want to become a leader in a unit to change one of their lower-division classes."
The project focuses on partnerships to reshape courses, potentially giving minorities more opportunities in STEM.
"I think one of the biggest challenges is that a lot of the research that we do in science education has been done at primarily Anglo universities and we have a great population here with a Hispanic serving institution and it just needs to get that cultural relevance piece in here so that ways we can impact and keep Hispanics in STEM," Cynthia Luxford, assistant professor said.
"So, we're starting with the departments doing a really critical self-assessment looking at what are their needs. What are they doing really well? What do they have to share with the rest of campus and then what things can we help them to develop further and improve," Galloway said.
In the fall of 2018, Hispanics made up 37 percent of the student body according to university officials. That's out of a total student body of 38,694.
In 2008, there were 647 Hispanic undergraduates in the College of Science and Engineering. In 2018, that number had grown to 2,300.