$1.5M NSF Grant Readies STEM Transfer Students

Academically talented engineering students with demonstrated financial need who are considering a transfer to the School of Engineering at University of St. Thomas have an opportunity to receive $10,000 per academic year for up to three years thanks to an expanded scholarship opportunity that started accepting applications this spring for fall 2022 enrollment.

The scholarship program will be funded by a nearly $1.5 million grant awarded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) Program. The six-year grant will fold into the school’s APEX Project: Engineering a Transfer-Friendly Experience initiative. The award will fund scholarships to 31 unique full-time students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in civil, computer, electrical or mechanical engineering.

“Admitting transfer students to the School of Engineering is a way to cultivate diversity in the program, from first-generation college students to underserved populations, as well as the nontraditional student,” said Dr. Kundan Nepal, a principal investigator who co-wrote the grant application with fellow faculty members Dr. Katherine Acton, Dr. Jenny Holte and Dr. Deb Besser.

To reach potential scholars, the School of Engineering closely partners with several area community colleges, including Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Century College, Inver Hills Community College, Normandale Community College and Saint Paul College.

Faculty and engineering transfer students participate in ice breakers and team building on south campus in St. Paul.

Mechanical engineering student Ryan Van Domelen, who previously transferred to St. Thomas, said, “The transfer scholarship made St. Thomas cheaper for me than the other schools I was looking at. St. Thomas also offers a variety of other scholarships that further reduces my tuition."

But the reasons extend beyond affordability as to why St. Thomas is an ideal choice for Van Domelen, who went to welding school out of high school and then worked manual labor jobs for a few years. “I knew that I had my best educational experiences in smaller classes, where I was able to be actively involved during lecture,” he said. “The vast majority of my classes at St. Thomas have been fewer than 35 students and professors design lectures to be engaging.”

25% of all undergraduate engineering students who graduate from St. Thomas are transfer students.

The NSF S-STEM grant will allow the School of Engineering to increase its support programming and activities targeting transfer students. Funding will also go toward a new summer bridge course, monthly seminars to boost skills, and faculty, peer, and industry mentoring.

This story is featured in the spring 2022 issue of St. Thomas Engineer.

Next in St. Thomas Engineer