By Gabrielle Owens
Cory Brozina, an assistant professor in the Rayen School of Engineering, was awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create programs for commuter engineering students. It is the largest donation Youngstown State University has received from the NSF to date.
Brozina, who is also the director of the first year engineering program, said he feels great about making history at YSU with the funds.
“It’s going to hopefully — in the long term — change the landscape of YSU, and we’re going to really try and make the engineering program a top notch program for the entire state and in the country as well,” he said. “We have an opportunity to make this program better and this grant is going to help us do that.”
Brozina is entering his fifth year as a professor at YSU. He is the principal investigator of the NSF-funded project. “Developing and Encouraging Engineering Professionals Within a Commuter Student Population.” He worked with co-principal investigators Hazel Marie, professor and mechanical engineering program coordinator, and Kathleen Cripe, associate professor of teacher education. Together, they created a proposal to help improve the success rate of commuter engineering students.
“The proposal that I’ve submitted to the NSF is for a special program called S-STEM, so scholarship for STEM students,” Brozina said.
According to Brozina, the grant will bring exposure and recognition to YSU. He hopes to receive more grants from the NSF in the future.
“That’s the thing with NSF, getting your first or second grant is difficult, but once you get it and you do a good job at it, we can get more funding. So that’s going to really help out myself as a researcher, but also YSU in general,” Brozina said.
The NSF proposal includes four parts, including:
- The YSU Developing and Encouraging Engineering Professionals — Commuters (DEEP-C) scholarship. The fund totals $624,000, and will provide 120 renewable scholarships over five years. It will be distributed into two cohorts beginning fall 2021. The fund is intended to keep students enrolled in the engineering program through their graduation.
- Increasing student participation in enrichment activities, community building, mentoring, professional and leadership development activities.
- Creating programs for recruitment to increase the number of engineering students at YSU. They will focus on outreach to female engineering students to help balance the low percentage of women currently working and enrolled in engineering programs.
- Conducting research based on the question “How can a four-year institution help increase the integration and success of engineering commuter students?” All NSF projects must provide research for its proposal to pass.
To apply for the DEEP-C scholarship, students must be a first-year incoming engineering student, be eligible for the Pell grant, have a 3.0 high school GPA and submit a reference letter from a high school teacher. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA while enrolled in the engineering program at YSU.
“It’s on average a $5,200 scholarship; it’s based on your financial need. If some students we see need a little bit more, we’ll give a little more. If some need less, we’ll give them less, and it’s renewable every year for four years,” Brozina said.
Brozina said the goal of the DEEP-C scholarship is to give engineering students the support they need to be successful and keep them on the pathway to graduate with an engineering degree.
The priority deadline to apply for the scholarship is March 1, 2021. Students interested in the DEEP-C scholarship can visit YSU’s STEM department scholarship website.