Wayne State Receives $1 million NSF Grant To Support Commuter Students In Engineering

DETROIT – A team of Wayne State University faculty was awarded $1 million from the National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) initiative for a new program called ACCESS: Achieving Commuter Engagement and Success.

ACCESS aims to increase the retention and six-year graduation rates of targeted students while also providing insight to factors that affect how commuters engage with the campus community. By funding 84 scholarships over the next five years, ACCESS will support students who show high potential for success in STEM disciplines and wish to pursue a bachelor’s in engineering at Wayne State yet face unique challenges as commuter students with low-income socioeconomic status.

In addition to financial support, the program includes summer engineering boot camps; mentoring from peers, faculty and working engineers; and experiential learning through internships and co-ops.

“This project really has the heart of Wayne State in it, and it builds on the best of what our faculty and staff across campus are doing to promote the success of our students,” said Jeffrey Potoff, principal investigator on the ACCESS project and associate dean for academic and student affairs in the Wayne State University College of Engineering.

ACCESS is one of several initiatives the College of Engineering has established over the last few years to bolster student success. In 2015, the college received $1.2 millionfrom the DTE Foundation to revamp EOS, a program that provides educational and mentoring support to first- and second-year engineering students. Ford Motor Company established an endowed scholarship to support economically challenged engineering students, and Wayne State faculty have implemented evidence-based teaching innovations for basic engineering, engineering technology and computer science through a number of NSF-funded S-STEP awards.

“Our students are extremely hardworking and dedicated to the pursuit of their engineering degrees,” said Potoff. “We are equally dedicated in our efforts to provide our students with the highest quality experience both inside and outside the classroom.”

Co-principal investigators on ACCESS include Michelle Jacobs, assistant professor of sociology; Marcis Jansons, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of early engineering programs; and Mohsen Ayoobi, assistant professor of engineering technology. The grant number for this National Science Foundation award is 1742486.