HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke Community College recently announced their receipt of nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create a new engineering pathways program.

The program will be designed to boost the numbers of Latinx and women engineers working in the field. With the assistance of the $956,458 grant, paid over four years, HCC plans to design an accelerated, one-year engineering certificate program. The program will partner with high-tech research organizations to offer paid internships to students meeting the criteria.

The money for the grant comes from the National Science Foundation’s program for Hispanic Serving Institutions. HCC has been a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, meaning their Latinx enrollment exceeds 25 percent, since 2016.

“The grant gives us the funding to create a new curriculum,” said Adrienne Smith, HCC’s dean of STEM and one of the grant managers. Through the grant, HCC will hire an Engineering Pathways coordinator to recruit high school students for the program. “The coordinator will also be an ongoing resource for the students,” said Smith. “We don’t want to just get students into the program; we want them to get through it and succeed.”

A stipulation of the grant calls for a review of HCC’s associate degree program in engineering to increase employer engagement. This is addressed within the new program from an increased emphasis on placing students in paid internships.

“The internship is built into the curriculum,” said Smith. “We already have some things set up with Brookhaven Labs. They want our students. They’re going to pay for their housing and a healthy salary. We’re working to find other companies to do exactly the same thing.”