CLEMSON — A $500,000 grant from the Bosch Community Fund will establish an endowment in perpetuity for automotive-engineering fellowships that are aimed at diversifying the workforce and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists.
Fellowships of $20,000 a year will go to exemplary students who seek a master of science in automotive engineering at Clemson University — International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville.
The awards will target students who are from groups with low representation in engineering and science, including women and minorities.
Bosch fellows will go to local elementary and middle schools, where they will participate in activities that support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Those schools will include the Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School, which opens in August at CU-ICAR’s Millenium Campus.
The intent is for the Bosch fellows to help reverse some troubling trends.
Educators have struggled to recruit students into STEM fields and keep them interested throughout their academic careers.
It’s a national problem raising concerns that significant parts of the population could be falling behind in some of the country’s fastest-growing and highest-paying job markets.
Clemson is not immune to the trend. The university has set a goal to increase female and minority enrollment in the graduate automotive-engineering program to 20 percent.
“We are so grateful to Bosch for these fellowships,” said Dr. Imtiaz Haque, founding chair of the automotive engineering department and executive director of the Carroll A. Campbell Graduate Engineering Center at CU-ICAR. “We expect them to have an immediate and significant impact on recruiting and retaining top quality students. Down the road, the fellowships will help create a more diverse, robust and engaged automotive industry workforce.”
The Bosch Community Fund is the charitable foundation of Robert Bosch LLC, which is based in Farmington Hills, Mich.
Bosch has operations in more than 30 U.S. locations, including four in South Carolina. Charleston and Fountain Inn each have one, and Anderson has two.
“It’s imperative we help create the workforce of the future,” said Mike Mansuetti, president of Robert Bosch LLC. “We see the tremendous STEM-related career opportunities that are available now and in the future. If we do not prepare students to move into these careers, as individuals they will not reach their full potential, U.S. innovation and industry will not grow, and that poses a threat to the quality of life for all who live here.
“The Bosch Community Fund strives to identify needs in the areas of STEM education and environmental sustainability with an emphasis on communities in which Bosch has a presence,” Mansuetti added. “We support teachers and parents as they ready the next generation of students to study, learn and successfully compete to fill these positions. We are excited to collaborate with Clemson and CU- ICAR as they understand the need and have the expertise to help close this critical gap.”
Each year, the chair of Clemson’s automotive engineering department will recommend a recipient. Final approval will be determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid and the Graduate School.
The Bosch fellows’ work is in addition to other CU-ICAR outreach efforts to the K-12 system.
Faculty and students have participated in programs at A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School. They have run summer workshops, designed STEM curricula and brought students to the campus to see research as part of the Gateways to Technology program.
Haque was instrumental in creating the idea for a STEM school with focus on energy that resulted in the GREEN Charter School in Greenville. He currently serves as a board member.
Clemson’s graduate program in automotive engineering started in 2006. It has graduated 23 students with doctoral degrees and 160 with master of science degrees.
The program produced the nation’s first male and female students with doctoral degrees in automotive engineering.