Scholarships aim for women, minorities in mechatronics
Mealand Ragland-Hudgins 12:45 p.m. CDT March 30, 2015
MTSU senior Daniel Kiviniemi, center, explains how the mechatronics operations to Phil Stinson, left, equipment maintenance manager with Feintool Tennessee Inc., and Jeff Fredline, sales and project manager with Industrial Maintenance Company in Gallatin. The university has landed a $614,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to recruit female and minority mechatronics students.(Photo: SUBMITTED)
MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee State University has received more than $600,000 in scholarship funds from the National Science Foundation to recruit minority and female engineering students.
For the next three years, at least 15 incoming freshmen students will receive scholarship awards for up to $10,000. Scholarships are expected to average $5,800 when other scholarships such as HOPE lottery funds are factored in. Participation priority will be given to qualified female and minority applicants to meet the objective of increasing the percentage of these student populations.
Mechatronics engineering is a program that combines mechanical, computer and electrical engineering, systems integration and project management.
The $614,172 award is designed to increase numbers, diversity, retention and graduation rates of MTSU students with a mechatronics engineering degree, a program the Tennessee Higher Education Commission approved in the summer of 2013.
The university launched its mechatronics engineering program in 2013 as a response to the needs of the region’s manufacturing industry. Walter Boles, chairman of the university’s Department of Engineering Technology, said of the 120-plus mechatronics students, only three to five are women or minorities.
“We’d like to get more of those groups involved in engineering and this will be one way to do it,” Boles said, adding that the funds will be available in time for the 2015-16 academic year.
“We still need to hammer out the full requirements of the scholarships, but the money will be available (to the university) beginning (Wednesday),” he added.