Getting underserved high school students into a summer STEM program can spark their interest in a technology career. Put that summer program on a university campus, and you might nurture much higher student aspirations. That is the goal of Unite, an initiative of the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP). Unite wants to inspire underserved youth to aim high when considering a career in STEM, and the program is looking for universities to host such students as they learn about technology and gain confidence in their abilities.
The Technology Student Association (TSA) has an RFP open now for new sites. Do you know a college that could host students?
To find out more about Unite, we contacted Hillary Lee, Unite program administrator with the TSA:
Q: Tell us about the Unite program and the students it aims to serve.
A: Unite is a four- to six-week pre-collegiate summer program for high school students from groups historically underserved and underrepresented in STEM.
The program is designed to give students the opportunity to:
- Gain a better understanding of the real-world applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- Overcome negative attitudes and perceptions they might have about cultural, social and other barriers to STEM studies and careers.
- Gain confidence in their ability to participate in engineering and other STEM activities.
- Engage in activities that promote collaboration and problem solving in a team environment.
- Be better prepared to pursue engineering and STEM in college and, ultimately, in future careers.
Q: What is the Technology Student Association’s involvement in the program?
A: Unite is administered by the TSA, a national nonprofit organization of middle and high school students engaged in STEM.
TSA is a member of the AEOP Consortium. The consortium is comprised of education organizations that provide and/or oversee STEM programs designed to support the goals and mission of the AEOP. The lead organization for the consortium is Battelle.
Q: How do students apply? Is there a fee?
A: Students apply directly to a university/institution site with a Unite program. There is no fee for a student to apply to a program, nor are there any costs for a student to participate in a program.
Q: Where is the program held?
A: Programs are held at university sites across the nation, and in Puerto Rico, that are awarded Unite funding. In 2017, more than 350 students spent part of their summer engaging in STEM activities at 18 university Unite sites nationwide. The sites included the University of Colorado, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the University of Pennsylvania and Marshall University in West Virginia.
To determine sites for the next two summers of the program, a 2018-19 Unite Request for Proposal (RFP) was released in October 2017. Institutions that submit a completed proposal (deadline is December 8, 2017) will be notified of award or non-award in January 2018. Any university/institution may apply.
Unite program requirements – as well as proposal submission requirements – are contained in the 2018-19 Unite RFP.
Q: Does each site offer a unique program? How could offering the Unite program benefit a particular site?
A: Each university seeking to host the Unite program must have an existing summer STEM program on campus. Unite funding should supplement that program with additional STEM curriculum, STEM activities/field trips, exposure to STEM career areas and STEM professionals, etc.
Sites that are awarded funding must meet universal Unite program requirements; however, while adhering to those requirements, each site also has the flexibility to design a program to best meet the needs of the population to be served.
Having a Unite program on campus enhances the reach of a site to a local community or targeted population and enriches the offerings of the institution.
Q: Where could readers find more information?
A: For more information about Unite, or the Unite RFP, contact Hillary Lee via email at [email protected], or by phone at 888-860-9010.