S-STEM program reapplies for NSF funding after cuts

Appalachian State University’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program is reapplying for funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) its funding was cut in December 2011.

NSF withdrew funding from Appalachian’s S-STEM due to budget cuts and an increase in the competitiveness of the grant.

For the last nine years, S-STEM has been a program focused on helping computer science and applied mathematics students, said Rahman Tashakkori, a professor of computer science and director of S-STEM.

“The main reason it’s been successful is because it is a program that has received significant support,” Tashakkori said. “There are so many faculty and people on campus that are involved and supporting it.”

Tashakkori is currently working on a proposal to reapply for funding. Two faculty members from the department of math, three faculty members from the department of computer science and one computer science graduate, Luke Rice, will help write the proposal.

The proposal is due August 2012. S-STEM will be notified if they are qualified for funding from NSF after six months.

“I think it hurts the school as a whole not having the program,” Rice said. “It’s useful to have that community to support people.”

In the proposal, S-STEM will highlight the achievements of the program. One of the program’s most notable successes has been its retention rate, Tashakkori said.

Appalachian’s S-STEM program as a retention rate of around 80 percent for undergraduates and 82 percent for graduates. The national average retention rate is around 50 percent, Tashakkori said.

“We have a very strong program,” he said. “We need to highlight that success.”

Student achievements in the S-STEM program will also be highlighted in the proposal.

If S-STEM is not granted funding, Tashakkori said he will reapply.

“We’ll never stop trying,” Tashakkori said. “What we learn is that if you don’t try, you never get funding.”

Story: KELLI STRAKA, Senior News Reporter