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Sens. Warner, Kaine Announce Nearly $5 Million To Advance Engineering Education At Virginia Colleges

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that Virginia Tech, Virginia Western Community College, and Northern Virginia Community College have been awarded $4,999,970 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish stronger networks between these institutions and increase the success of engineering transfer students following the community college-to-bachelor's degree pathway. This competitive grant will support scholarships for low-income students in community colleges seeking to transfer to four-year institutions and pursue a career in the engineering field. The total number of scholarships awarded across all three institutions is 336 over five years.

“Promoting access and completion in STEM fields, particularly for low-income and first generation students, will prove increasingly important in our ever-changing economy,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased that these funds will give low-income Virginia students a shot at an engineering degree, prepare them to join a competitive workforce, and help guarantee a pipeline of trained workers that will build our nation’s future infrastructure.”

Community colleges are cost-effective gateways to four-year universities for academically talented, low-income students. The creation of a strong partnership between these institutions, including early and frequent interaction between the student and the four-year institution, will enhance the potential for successful student transfer and timely completion of a baccalaureate degree.

The program that will administer these funds—the Virginia Tech Network for Engineering Transfer Students (VT-NETS)—is a collaborative effort between Virginia Tech, Virginia Western Community College, and Northern Virginia Community College. VT-NETS creates this partnership and serves as a research-based model for future collaboration between community colleges and four-year institutions.