The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded County College of Morris (CCM) a $199,999 grant to support a new college initiative aimed at preparing a larger number of associate degree graduates for the strong growth fields of biotechnology, chemical technology and environmental science.
Recognizing that the country is faced with a shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workers, CCM is launching the Pathways of Applied Career Experience (PACE) Science Program to increase enrollment and retention rates for science students. Through the program, students enrolled in the college’s biotechnology and chemical technology programs will be provided with internships and other field experience, along with a learning environment that emphasizes problem solving, team work and higher-level thinking.
“The primary goal of the PACE program is to provide a wider population of students with pathways for applied industry experience so they can better take advantage of employment opportunities,” said Dr. Edward J. Yaw, president of CCM. “As part of this program, we also will be working closely with industry representatives to ensure that our students are provided with the education, training and skills to meet the needs of employers.”
Also as part of the NSF grant program, science faculty will be incorporating Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) activities into a number of classes. POGIL is a student-centered strategy that engages students in learning by having them work in small groups on projects that guide them toward the formulation of their own conclusions.
“With POGIL, the emphasis is on learning as an interactive process, rather than a solitary task of listening and memorization,” said Keri Flanagan, assistant professor of chemistry, who is serving as the principal investigator for the grant program. “Through the process, students learn how to work effectively with others, develop problem solving skills and hone an ability to apply knowledge to new concepts, all skills needed to succeed in today’s work environment.”
CCM offers associate of science degree programs in biotechnology and chemical technology and an environmental science option that prepare students for entry into the job market. The PACE program also will benefit science students at the college who plan to enroll at four-year institutions to earn their bachelor’s degrees prior to employment.
For more information on the Biotechnology and Chemical Technology programs at CCM, visit www.ccm.edu/academics/divdep/hns/biochem