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UT Arlington, TCC partner for geosciences education

UT Arlington and Tarrant County College are partnering to encourage students from underrepresented groups to consider majoring in the geosciences and to establish an easy transfer process between TCC and UT Arlington.

Officials from the two institutions have received a $200,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation's Opportunities to Enhance Diversity in the Geosciences program. John Wickham, professor and chair of UT Arlington's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is the principal investigator for the grant. Co-principal investigators are Pamela Jansma, dean of the UT Arlington College of Science; Gary Smith, TCC interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of science; and Glen Mattioli, UT Arlington professor of earth and environmental sciences.

"Hispanics, African Americans and other minorities are underrepresented in the geosciences workforce compared to the general population, especially in Texas," Wickham said. "Projections of job growth in the energy industry, natural resource management and other geoscience-related fields suggest that without attracting more of these underrepresented groups to the geosciences, the United States will have to use foreign nationals to fill the need over the next decade."

To attract new students to the geosciences, the partnership provides mentors, summer field trips and summer research jobs. These learning experiences will encourage freshmen and sophomore students at both institutions to take geosciences, earn an Associate of Science degree from TCC and go on to earn at least a bachelor's degree at UT Arlington.

"In addition to providing a strong educational background in geology, the TCC faculty will work with students on such topics as how to be successful in college and career choices," Smith said. "The grant will provide a mechanism for the faculty to monitor student success and have early intervention if necessary. We hope that this program will be so successful that it will become a national model."

Organizers will recruit 20 underrepresented students for the program.

Students will be expected to successfully take introductory courses in geology, chemistry, biology, math and physics during their first two years and take part in a summer program. The summer program will consist of a field trip experience at the end of the first year and research experience with UT Arlington faculty at the end of their second year.

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