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Title III Part B, Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program

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Spelman College Title III, SAFRA Activity 2:
Strengthening Academic Programs in STEM

Spelman College has a new Design and Innovation Center renovated and equipped using Title III, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, SAFRA grant funding, which today houses a 3-D printer, laser cutter and CNC router. The College’s new “maker space” has the potential to serve as a catalyst that allows students – regardless of their major – to design and build almost anything. As the global leader in the education of women of African descent and the leading producer of Black women who go on to earn Ph.D.s in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines, it makes sense for Spelman to embrace innovation and the maker movement that is catching on around the world.

While the Center is currently being used by the intro to engineering course, physics, robotics and other computer and information science classes, it is designed to be an idea-driven, interdisciplinary space where faculty and students from across the campus can learn, ideate, design, create, and manufacture what they imagine. The interdisciplinary potential of the Center was exemplified by the collaboration between faculty from Biology and Computer and Information Sciences (CIS) departments and a CIS student who created one of the first innovation center projects.

The Center’s future hands-on learning opportunities, workshops, and program offerings will not only nurture creativity, problem-solving, collaboration and idea generation, but will inspire more students to get excited about STEM. The Center will also help to better prepare dual degree engineering majors for the rigorous training they will receive once they leave Spelman to complete the additional two-year academic requirement at participating engineering schools.

In June 2014, Spelman was invited by President Barack Obama to join the Department of Education and five other agencies, over 150 colleges and universities, more than 130 libraries, and major companies at the White House for the first-ever Maker Faire. There Spelman signed the letter to the president committing to “empower students to learn through making, expand access to maker spaces, incorporate making into senior design projects and admissions portfolios, and support student entrepreneurship.” Faculty in the computer and information sciences and dual-degree engineering program, are already developing curricular enhancements to incorporate maker projects into the curriculum. Along with STEM faculty, economics, art and art history faculty are encouraging students to make use of the Center to strengthen both their curricular and co-curricular experiences.

By lowering the cost of developing a prototype and creating a space where new ideas are supported and welcomed, the Center affords Spelman students the freedom to change the world, launch successful businesses, create new jobs, and potentially transform industries. The Design and Innovation Center has positioned Spelman for success in embracing innovation and the maker revolution.

Information on the Pharmaceutical Science Program

Support by Title III and SAFRA is instrumental in upgrading and enhancing our STEM classrooms and labs. The Strengthening HBCU activity “Enhancing Academic Success for 21st Century Learners in the Division of Academic Affairs” and the SAFRA activities “Strengthening Pharmaceutical Science Labs” and “Health Professions Scholars Program” set the stage for student success. Students not only have access to state-of-the-art equipment and supplies for a greater learning experience, but they receive tutoring Funds from the “Strengthening HBCUs” and the SAFRA grant were used to upgrade classrooms and labs and provided training for students on the following topics:

  • Test taking skills
  • Good study habits

The activity also developed modules for students to use as a student enhancement program for pre-health professions. The following is a list of the program impact:

  1. 10 Students admitted to Pharm.D programs after graduation
  2. one student admitted to Nursing program
  3. three student admitted to Masters in Public Health program
  4. 21 students graduated from the Pharmaceutical Science program since 2012

  5. Upgrades to the STEM labs (Microbiology and Chemistry) will address student learning. The upgrades will enhance the laboratory offerings in Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical science. As a result of the labs being completed, the Pharmaceutical Science faculty will be offering an additional class in the lab. This lab will provide basic training for students who will be working in STEM careers. Students will obtain excellent, state-of-the-art training on the equipment in the lab. Students can now conduct both traditional and new innovative classroom experiments currently utilized in research laboratories and the scientific workforce.

    Summary of Impact of the SAFRA Activity

  6. The establishment of a state of cutting edge technology laboratory
  7. Current equipment for Biochemistry lab will provide students with training for immediate employment in the pharmacy industry
  8. Increase research potential for faculty and students in biology, chemistry and pharmaceutical science.


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Last Modified: 09/21/2015