September 21, 2016 – In a huge boost to STEM education at Fort Lewis College (science, technology, engineering, and math), FLC was awarded $1.75 million from the U.S. Department of Education, Title III, Native American-Serving, Nontribal Institutions Program. The funding will support development of FLC’s new Computer Engineering degree, undergraduate research, and the Native American Center.
“I am deeply grateful to the Durango business community and to Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and Representative Scott Tipton for their support of this needed major and for their support of Native American education,” says FLC President Dene Thomas. “We are thrilled at this opportunity to increase academic programs that are aligned with local and state workforce needs.”
The new funding, which will be awarded at $350,000 per year over the next five years, will support retention and graduation in the STEM disciplines. There are four main areas to be served by the new funding:
Developing undergraduate research at FLC
Creating and enhancing curriculum for the new Computer Engineering degree
Equipping engineering labs with state-of-the-art technology
Supporting the FLC Native American Center through speaker series, instructional technology, tutoring and professional development staff
According to Region 9 data, the employment sectors offering the highest annual wages are (1) natural resources and mining, (2) financial activities, and (3) information. FLC students graduating with a STEM degree will be in prime position to enjoy a career in these and many other fields.
“Vantiv is a leading payment processor and we employ more than 400 employees in Durango. We are the region’s largest growing technology company and we are eager to hire local STEM students and graduates for internships and full-time employment,” Vantiv Group President, Integrated Payments and Emerging Channels, Matt Taylor stated in a letter of support for the funding. “However, we are not always able to find local candidates with the needed technical training. [The FLC Computer Engineering program] would provide needed training in computer programing and engineering to the diverse local population in order to fill in-demand, high-paying tech jobs at Vantiv and other companies in Durango and around the country.”
“This funding is important in helping students succeed in college,” says Yvonne Bilinski, director of the FLC Native American Center. “It will allow us to broaden our textbook offerings, expand our ability to provide tutors, and enable us to send students to American Indian and Alaska Native conferences across the country.”