NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University is among 17 Texas universities and community colleges to receive a grant to help fund summer science, technology, engineering and mathematics camps for students ages 14 to 21.
Gov. Greg Abbott made an announcement July 7 that nearly $1.3 million will be distributed through the Governor’s Summer Merit Program to provide scholarships for approximately 2,231 students statewide to attend the STEM camps this summer to help prepare them for future high-skill, high-demand jobs. The funds were awarded by the Texas Workforce Commission.
The program introduces young people to one or more of Texas' six focus industry clusters: advanced technologies and manufacturing, aerospace and defense, biotechnology and life sciences, information and computer technology, petroleum refining and chemical products, and energy.
“Texas is home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other state, and those employers want a talented workforce that is flexible, well-rounded and ready to innovate,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson. “When I talk to employers, they express their interest in finding more skilled employees. A STEM education is a valuable tool and a starting point to helping train the workforce these employers need.”
Texas is projected to add more than 300,000 STEM occupations through 2028, according to data projections by the TWC Labor Market Information Department. Several camps are designed to encourage young women and minorities to pursue further education and careers in STEM.
"Texas is a global leader in science and technology, and we will continue offering the best opportunities for young Texans to become engaged in STEM,” Abbott said. “Developing a highly skilled, diverse workforce for tomorrow would not be possible without investing in Texas’ most valuable asset — students in our classrooms today. Through the Governor’s Summer Merit Program, our universities and community colleges will provide life-changing educational experiences for the next generation of engineers, mathematicians, software developers and more in the Lone Star State.”
Grants per institution ranged from $36,400 to $100,000. SFA was among four institutions to receive $100,000. This is SFA’s second year to be awarded the funding.
“SFA will host more than 800 students during summer camps and single-day events,” said Dr. Jana Redfield, SFA’s associate director of the STEM Research and Learning Center. “The TWC award will fully sponsor up to 140 students for a weeklong day camp and a weeklong residential camp this summer.”
Students attending SFA’s camps will participate in activities such as Vex robots, programming and flying drones, virtual reality simulations, computer science coding and programming, crime scene investigations, biology labs, nursing simulations, geology explorations with a fossil hunt and more. Students also will have opportunities for career-focused field trips, faculty- and student-led STEM panel discussions, and a trip to the Perot Museum in Dallas.
For more information about SFA’s STEM summer camps, contact the STEM Research and Learning Center by phone at (936) 468-5814 or email STEMcenter@sfasu.edu.