At a time when many programs at Oregon State University are cutting funds, two programs received more than $315,000 in grants.
The Oregon University System awarded "Bright Future" grants to The Science & Math Investigative Learning Experience (SMILE) and the Center for Outreach in Science and Engineering for Youth (COSEY) at OSU, said Bruce Schafer, executive director of The Engineering and Technology Industry Council.
The programs are designed for middle-school students and offer them a closer look at engineering, science and math projects to increase their awareness of a possible college major and career in engineering, Schafer said.
OSU's SMILE was awarded $216,115, said Eda Davis-Lowe, the director of the program. Half of the funds have already been distributed for the 20-month grant.
"We're very excited about the support," Davis-owe said. The grant funds a partnership between SMILE and Oregon 4-H programs. "By working with 4-H, we'll be able to expand our learning opportunities in middle schools in rural Oregon."
The grant offer supports four key areas: professional development for teachers who advise SMILE clubs; funding for after-school clubs for students; professional development for 4-H faculty; and bringing participants to the engineering design challenges on Oregon campuses. The grant represents 12 percent of the program's total operating budget.
OSU's Center for Outreach in Science and Engineering for Youth received a two-year grant for $99,619 to support summer camps throughout Oregon in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs and 4-H programs.
"This is the biggest single grant we've gotten," said Skip Rochefort, director of COSEY and an associate professor of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. "I've been involved in K-12 outreach activities for 15 years." He created summer engineering camps for the Saturday Academy.
Rochefort and Kyle Cole, assistant director of Pre-College Programs, proposed a collaboration between the Colleges of Science and Engineering and Pre-College Programs to offer summer engineering camps for middle school students in under-served communities. The camps will feature a sustainable theme and introduce fuel and solar cells, wind power and biodiesel.
Five camps will be hosted by Boys & Girls Clubs in Coos Bay, Salem, Corvallis, Albany and Lebanon/Sweet Home. Camps in Medford, Ontario and Salem will be 4-H Latino camps, Rochefort said.
OSU undergraduate and graduate students will lead the camps. Local teachers will observe and receive training. The program will then provide study kits and a lending library focused on the sustainability theme. It will give schools with limited resources access to "things they can't afford," Rochefort said.
"Once we develop the kits and network, this can go on for years."