For Immediate Release
September 15, 2011
Contacts: Millree Williams, 301 405 4621 or firstname.lastname@example.org
UMD Statement in Support of the AAU Five-Year Initiative to Improve Undergraduate STEM Education
The University of Maryland congratulates the Association of American Universities (AAU) on launching its Five-Year Initiative to Improve Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. We are quite confident that within a few years, this initiative will prove to be a landmark effort to expand the basic understanding of STEM disciplines and increase the pipeline of students studying STEM subjects and professionals practicing and teaching in STEM fields. We also congratulate our distinguished professor, James Gates, Jr., John S. Toll Professor of Physics and Director of the UMD Center for String and Particle Theory, who will serve on the AAU technical advisory committee composed of experts in undergraduate STEM teaching and learning.
We support this effort, in part, because we are a leader in expanding basic knowledge in this area, as well as attracting, retaining and graduating top students - especially underrepresented populations such as minorities and women -- into STEM disciplines and careers.
We are beginning to see our efforts pay dividends to the state of Maryland and across the nation. The following is a brief university scan of our efforts to expand and enrich STEM education at the University of Maryland. For a version of this document that includes a more extensive listing of UMD STEM education initiatives for undergraduate students click here.
- Blended Learning Initiative: An Innovative Learning Opportunity for Students at the University of Maryland-- A new initiative to develop innovative learning opportunities for students. It involves the complete redesign and implementation of 10 challenging undergraduate courses from across the campus into blended learning formats. A blended learning course involves a combination of face-to-face and online interactions, built on a rich collaborative environment that includes a variety of information sources, such as multimedia data, social technologies (e.g., blogs, Wikis, Twitter), simulations, and visualization for individual and collaborative learning and for team projects.
- The Keystone Program: The Clark School Academy of Distinguished Teachers -- Encourages the Clark School of Engineering's best faculty members to teach our most fundamental engineering courses. Keystone brings beginning engineers an enhanced educational experience, reinforces and recognizes outstanding teaching, and serves as a national model for increasing engineering student retention and graduation rates. The program is designed to: provide freshman and sophomore engineering students with a foundation upon which to build successful careers in engineering; provide engineering students with the support necessary to succeed in a demanding engineering program; enable the best faculty to teach the most fundamental engineering courses; revive the infrastructure of freshman and sophomore engineering courses with a focus on engineering design; and assume the leadership role of the Engineering Sciences.
- Women in Engineering Program --Since 2006, the Women in Engineering Program has helped the Clark School exceed the national average of percentage of incoming female undergraduates. Innovative programs like Flexus: The Dr. Marilyn Berman Pollans WIE Living and Learning Community ease the transition to engineering for first- and second-year female undergraduates by providing a living-learning environment.
- Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program -- A $1.2 million NSF grant will now create a comprehensive teacher preparation and recruitment effort aimed at attracting and preparing a talented, diverse cohort of UMD students to effectively teach mathematics in high needs middle and high schools. The Noyce Scholars Program will help the College meet its commitment to doubling the number of STEM teachers who complete its program by 2013 by encouraging and funding talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers.
- Expanding Interdisciplinary Education at the Physics-Biology Interface -- Building on an extensive body of research on how students learn physics, faculty members from Physics and the Biological Sciences are transforming courses at the interface of these disciplines. Courses in introductory biology and introductory physics will use active-engagement pedagogies to help students master important physical, chemical, mathematical, evolutionary, and genomic principles for understanding complex biological phenomena. This project was one of four curriculum transformation proposals recently awarded special funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to engage in a multi-institution, interdisciplinary collaboration (NEXUS) to develop a model interdisciplinary curriculum for pre-medical students.
- Biotechnology Summer Academy -- A special training program that is part of component of a $3.2 million NSF grant on nitrogen cycling and storage in poplar trees. This program has run for two summers at Bowie State University, and is open to minority high school and college students from area schools, as well as high school teachers. It offers two 3-week sessions each summer in which participants attend lectures and participate in hands-on activities to learn more about biotechnology techniques and procedures. The Academy affords participants a unique training and educational experience. Several participants from the session became eligible for summer internships in the UMD laboratories of the grant collaborators.
- Ag Discovery -- Teaching academic sessions and giving tours for AgDiscovery. AgDiscovery is an outreach program to help students learn about careers in animal science, veterinary medicine, agribusiness and plant pathology. This 2-3 week program allows participants to live on a college campus and learn about agricultural sciences from university professors, practicing veterinarians and professionals working for the U.S. Government. Students chosen to participate in AgDiscovery will gain experience through hands-on laboratories, workshops, field trips and other group and team building activities.
- Aquaculture in Action Program & Science Research Curriculum -- Since 1998 Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program has developed a network of "aquaculture educators" in Maryland in partnership with local school systems. By partnering with local school systems like Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS) and Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) Youth Centers, the use of aquaculture as a "tool for teaching science" is enhancing local curriculum and STEM initiatives in these systems.
Executive Director, Public Affairs Strategy
University of Maryland