The number of degrees Northwestern State University awarded in the areas of science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) set records at the conclusion of the 2009-10 academic year as the university strives to fulfill needs in the region’s workforce.


The number of degrees Northwestern State University awarded in the areas of science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) set records at the conclusion of the 2009-10 academic year as the university strives to fulfill needs in the region’s workforce.
 
Findings reported by the school’s office of Institutional Research show that the number of graduates from the Engineering Technology, biology, radiological science, psychology, criminal justice and nursing programs are significantly higher, compared to statistics from 2000 as well as from 2005, when the University of Louisiana System initiated higher admissions standards for incoming freshmen.
 
The numbers are particularly significant for the Department of Engineering Technology.
 
“When I compared the ET graduation numbers I found that we set records this year,” said Dr. Tom Hall, head of the Department of Engineering Technology.  “In 2009-10, we awarded more Associate of Science degrees in Electronics Technology (17) than ever before, more Bachelor of Science degrees in Industrial Engineering Technology, or its precursor Industrial Technology, (25) than ever before, and tied for the most Bachelor of Science degrees in Electronics Engineering Technology (15).  
 
“We have been able to maintain steady enrollments in our four-year degree programs since 2005,” said Dr. Tom Hall, head of the Department of Engineering Technology.  “We hope our new freshman class will be able to fill the holes left by these graduates.”
 
Other endeavors are also helping increase enrollment in the STEM areas.
 
NSU’s Department of Engineering Technology is the Louisiana affiliate university for Project Lead the Way, a national program that engages middle school and high school students in a curriculum designed to encourage development in the STEM areas, giving them the foundation to pursue high-tech careers. There are currently 30 schools in 16 parishes participating in PLTW, and participation continues to grow, Hall said.
 
“Project Lead the Way is one of many programs that we have initiated in the College of Science and Technology to increase majors in STEM.  The JOVE program has been ongoing for 16 years and has been highly successful.  I believe that Project Lead The Way will be equally as successful as JOVE and other programs we have initiated over the years,” said Dr. Austin Temple, dean of the College of Science and Technology.
 
JOVE is a highly selective scholarship program for students majoring in biology, chemistry, mathematics or physics. The College of Science and Technology also oversees the Inter-Disciplinary Experimentation and Scholarship (IDEAS) program, which promotes collaborative research between scientific disciplines.
 
“After admissions standards were instituted in 2005, the overall enrollment in Engineering Technology dropped about 10 percent, primarily enrollments in the two-year degree,” Hall said.  “However, admissions standards helped make significant improvements in our retention, so a larger percentage of students coming in the front door actually make it to graduation.”