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MCC Receives National Science Foundation Grant to Promote STEM Careers

[Friday, April 6, 2018]

McHenry County College (MCC) has been awarded a $650,000 federal grant to provide substantial scholarships and inventive programming for students interested in pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the goal of the grant is to increase the number of academically talented students with significant financial need to have the opportunity to obtain degrees in STEM fields, and to improve the education of future scientists, engineers, and technicians through innovative partnerships and student programs.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employment in STEM occupations grew by over 24 percent over the last decade, compared to only four percent for all other occupations. In addition, individuals in STEM careers earn on average 29 percent more than those working in non-STEM positions. 

“What an exciting honor to have been selected for this highly competitive grant that both four-year colleges and community colleges apply for each year,” said MCC president Clint Gabbard, Ph.D. “We are proud that MCC has met the rigorous criteria for this important program, and thrilled to have this innovative opportunity to provide our students programmatic, resource, and financial support to help achieve careers in STEM fields.”

Over the next five years, the program will provide up to $10,000 in scholarship support per student to at least 40 students attending MCC. Women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and first-generation college students are particularly encouraged to apply.

In addition to financial support, MCC students accepted into the STEM Scholarship Program will receive one-on-one guidance from a faculty member, personalized tutoring, a professional mentor working in one of McHenry County’s STEM industries, and opportunities for research and internships. An important part of the program is to help students learn more about the wide range of career possibilities that exist in STEM fields, both locally and regionally.

MCC offers a variety of opportunities for students interested in STEM careers. These include, for example, associate degree programs in robotics, graphic design, mobile application development, and network security. Students may also earn an associate of science or engineering sciences degree, and then transfer to a four-year college to focus their studies in STEM fields such as biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering, mathematics, or physics.

“We are thrilled that we are able to provide so much support to incoming MCC students preparing for the many exciting career opportunities available in the STEM fields,” said MCC Dean of Mathematics and Sciences, Maria Taydem, Ph.D. “This program, combined with the opening of our new Liebman Science Center, will provide students with a top-notch start to their STEM careers.”

This is the second largest grant the college has ever received in its 50-year history. The college received a five-year, $1.29 million Upward Bound grant last year from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare high school students for a college education.

For more information on the program and how to apply, contact any of the following individuals at MCC: Jack Brzezinski, project director at or at (815) 455-8578; Tammi Kostos, co-project director at or at (815) 455-8711; Rob Smith, co-project director at or (815) 455-8723 or Maria Taydem, dean of Mathematics and Sciences, at or (815) 455-8538.


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