Retaining STEM Students A Challenge

Jun 3, 2014

It's no secret that the science, technology, engineering, and mathematical fields can be demanding.

That's why University of Kentucky officials are working to retain students interested in studying for STEM-related careers.

UK, in collaboration with Bluegrass Community and Technical College, has been awarded $1.9 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to promote student achievement in those areas.

Mark Lawrence Kornbluh is the dean of UK’s College of Arts and Sciences says a majority of students majoring in the STEM fields either change majors or leave college all together.  He says there is a simple reason for that.

“It’s hard!  These are hard, demanding rigorous classes.”

This grant will fund a collection of initiatives dubbed STEMCats.  Kornbluh says the hope is to keep students engaged from their freshman year and beyond.

“The goal is to turn a switch so that they come in with an interest in science but they really don’t know what a life of science is like and so we believe that if in the first year you can turn a switch, get them excited then it sustains them through the four year process.”

The goal is to have 500 students a year in the program, each taking part in a research project led by a research faculty member with the intent of getting their work published.