TMCC Receives Five-Year National Science Foundation Grant for Engineering

An instructor helps engineering students in the classroom with complex robotic mechanisms.
Jared Libby

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded TMCC with a five-year grant of $1,696,448 to lead a collaboration with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), Western Nevada College (WNC), and Great Basin College (GBC) to streamline transfer processes for students in these community college Engineering Programs. This transformative contribution will cement the program’s organizational structure to build upon undergraduate educational research in this complex field of study.

An Easier Transition

Two areas of the NSF, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) and Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED), are implementing a two-year track for rapid and all-encompassing integration of engineering skills. Over the coming five years, TMCC will use the observations extracted from the Engineering Pathway for Access, Community, and Transfer (EPACT) research and discover solutions to address national issues facing this profession. As the pathway for engineering students is re-imagined, TMCC will cultivate diverse and well-equipped STEM experts who are engaged in their community and prepared for the workforce.

At TMCC, engineering students will dive into the practices of inventing, designing, analyzing, testing, building machines, understanding structures and operations using math and science, problem-solving, and fulfilling functional objectives and requirements of materials and instruments. The NSF grant will alter the course structure to reflect new departmental habits and academic collaborations with leading industry enterprises.

Anne Flesher, Dean of Computer, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences and Principal Investigator, is excited about implementing the strategies from the project, supporting the engineering transfer student, and the revolutionary effects this new course of study will have on institutions across the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE).

"This is the first time a community college has earned this particular NSF award, emphasizing the relevance of the transfer student in engineering. This is also TMCC's inaugural lead on an NSF grant," said Flesher.

“I am very thankful to NSF and RED project directors for addressing the concern of community college transfer students and supporting our work to diversify the engineering workforce,” continued Flesher.

What’s exciting is how we, as educators and administrators, with the help of the NSF, will reevaluate what it means to offer an engineering program here at the College. The common thread linking us remains the same: giving students an academic experience where they can advance to degree completion and land a gratifying career that is foundationally and fiscally secure. Retention is an issue colleges and universities across the country face, and that’s why tackling this concern is a massive step in the right direction.

It won’t happen overnight, but in the hands of capable faculty, striving to ease the burden of our students before migrating to university while implementing unique, contemporary teaching practices is a battle worth fighting for.

“I think students will appreciate the dedication to ensure their hard-earned credits remain transferable and applicable. The individuals we train in our Engineering Program earn well-paying careers and find job stability, two aspects that we aim to achieve with solid preparation in the classroom for anyone choosing this pathway,” said Flesher.

“The NSF grant allows us to expand our mindset around engineering transfer students in higher education, what it means to preserve their continuation across universities, and what they must learn to be adept in their field,” continued Flesher.

For more information, please visit the Engineering Program website.