3M helps North Star STEM Alliance advance STEM ed
May 15, 2017

How can we boost the number of underrepresented minority students studying to become tomorrow’s scientists and engineers? One way that industry, academia, and the government are addressing this need is through the North Star STEM Alliance, of which 3M is a valued partner.

An ambitious goal

Helping talented students succeed is the goal of National Science Foundation (NSF) Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation programs, which aim to double the number of underrepresented graduates in STEM fields. In Minnesota, the program is called the North Star STEM Alliance. Fourteen colleges and organizations, three community organizations, and partners like 3M are partnering to offer services and resources such as academic support, research opportunities, mentoring, community building, and professional and career development. The Alliance focuses primarily on African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Alaska Native, and Pacific Islander undergraduate STEM students.

3M extends North Star STEM umbrella

Southeast Asian students, however, are not identified in the NSF process. “3M funding helps us serve this important group of bright, motivated students,” says Sasanehsaeh Pyawasay, who helps to coordinate the Alliance program on the U of M’s Twin Cities campus. “Thanks to 3M we can extend the North Star STEM umbrella in two ways that can make a big difference. Special programs aimed at transfer and first-year students help our Southeast Asian students successfully bridge to college-level STEM study and campus life. 3M supports students who conduct research and present their findings to fellow scientists and engineers, which can be a powerful learning experience.”

Is this approach effective?

Data shows that Alliance students do better academically and are more likely to graduate on time than their underrepresented minority peers who do not participate in the Alliance. “3M funding helps us assist promising young students with a passion for learning and a STEM career” says Pyawasay. “We are grateful.”

The number of North Star STEM Alliance graduates has more than tripled in nine years, from 136 in 2004-05 to 444 in 2015-16

Photos: North Star STEM Alliance

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