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2014-15 STEM Bridge Scholarship Program

Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) provides renewable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Bridge Scholarships of $1,000 to sophomore students from any federally recognized minority group enrolled full-time in a program of study in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) at one of the five Virginia Space Grant member universities.

Contact:   Rudo Kashiri, Educational Program Specialist, 757/766-5210

Application deadline extended until May 30, 2014!


VSGC is currently recruiting applicants to the 2014-15 STEM Bridge Scholarship Program.

Overview
A major goal of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) is to help produce the engineers and scientists of the future. While opportunities for careers in aerospace have expanded, the number of talented students pursuing degrees in mathematics, engineering and the sciences has declined.  To encourage talented individuals to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields and research, the VSGC established the STEM Bridge Scholarship Program

The STEM Bridge Scholarship Program is a great entryway into the NASA pipeline and can lead to future VSGC scholarships and fellowships and NASA internship programs. This is a competitive scholarship program, funded by NASA and the Commonwealth of Virginia contributions, with the goals of:

  • Increasing participation in STEM-related research and careers by students from any federally recognized minority who demonstrate high academic achievement and promise;
  • Promoting undergraduate STEM-related research by assisting students with establishing relationships with student and faculty mentors early in their academic career;
  • Increasing the diversity of applicants to VSGC’s Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program by creating a bridge program that supports federally recognized minority students in their early undergraduate years; and,
  • Implementing the goals of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Benefits of Being a VSGC Undergraduate STEM Bridge Scholar

  • Students enter into the NASA pipeline. This opportunity can lead to future VSGC scholarships and fellowships as well as NASA internship programs
  • Students are exposed early in their college careers to STEM-related research and will be connected to faculty and students conducting research at their institution.  Scholars can use this opportunity to identify research projects to be submitted for future scholarship opportunities.
  • Students are invited to join the Virginia Space Grant Current Scholars and Fellows Facebook page which will not only allow students to network with other scholars from the five member institutions but also keep abreast on upcoming programs and deadlines.
  • Students are also encouraged to join the NASA sponsored Minority Innovation Challenges Institute site especially created to prepare minority students for future NASA programs.
  • Students receive feedback and guidance on how to prepare applications for NASA-related and other STEM internships.

Scholarship Program Awards and Eligibility

The VSGC STEM Bridge Scholarship Program provides an award of $1,000 to sophomore students from any federally recognized minority enrolled full-time in a program of study in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) at one of the five Virginia Space Grant institutions.  To be eligible, students must be identified as a member of a federally recognized minority studying in one of the STEM fields. Federally recognized minorities include students whose ethnicity is African American, Native American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander.  Female students who are members of these federally recognized minority groups are strongly encouraged to apply.  Successful scholarship recipients are expected to have grade point averages of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.  Students must be U.S. citizens and a rising sophomores at time of the award (Fall 2014).

Awardee Requirements
The scholarship program requires awardees to establish a relationship with a faculty member and a current VSGC Scholar or Fellow from the same discipline area during the award period.  VSGC will assist each awardee in identifying the appropriate individuals and in making the initial contact with faculty and other students.  VSGC will also facilitate an introduction to other STEM Bridge Scholars attending the same institution. Students will also be made aware of Space Grant and NASA internships, scholarships and other programs that relate to their academic studies and career pathways.

The purpose of establishing this relationship between the awardee and a faculty member is to provide the student the ability to learn more about the STEM discipline and current research projects and opportunities in the department. The student will be expected to initiate meetings with the faculty member to discuss research opportunities and to undertake academic coursework needed to prepare for research and careers in these areas.

Establishing a relationship with a current VSGC Scholar or Fellow will allow the awardee to understand the benefits of conducting undergraduate research and how to prepare to become a successful STEM researcher. Student mentorship has proven to be effective in encouraging undergraduates to pursue STEM careers and research leading to employment and enrolling in graduate programs. 

Awardees will be required to submit two mid-year progress reports to VSGC that describes the research topics and opportunities within their department that they are interested in and possibly pursuing in their upperclassman years.  Awardees will also be required to attend the STEM Bridge Orientation on campus in the fall, and the annual VSGC Student Research Conference to be held in the spring in a location to be determined. Awardees will be encouraged to apply for STEM and NASA related internships such as the Langley Research Summer Scholars (LARSS) internship program at NASA Langley Research Center.  Guidance will be offered for application preparation and deadline reminders.  VSGC wants to show students the importance of internships during their college careers, and we will do what we can to encourage professional development as early as possible.  As a STEM Bridge Scholar, students will be in the NASA pipeline which will help them become more competitive for NASA related internships and scholarships in the future.

Awardees will also be encouraged to sign on to the Virginia Space Grant Facebook page and the NASA Minority Innovation Challenges Institute.  Both sites will promote student networking as well as give another resources for students to gain information on upcoming opportunities, events and webinars.

Upon selection, awardees must submit an acceptance form and provide a photo and biographical information; inform the Consortium of changes of address; and respond to academic and employment follow-up surveys. Students may also be asked to share their experience in public forums, classroom presentations and professional meetings. Presentations that encourage interest in aerospace careers and research to high school students are of particular interest to the Consortium.

Selection Criteria

VSGC established this program to promote STEM-related careers and research at the undergraduate level and to serve as a bridge to VSGC’s Undergraduate Research Scholarship and Graduate Research Fellowship and other NASA related programs. 

Awardees should have an academic background that demonstrates a strong interest and ability in science, math, and technology reflected by completion of a significant number of these courses with high achievement.  The student should have the necessary academic coursework and preparation to be successful in a STEM major at the institution.  Awardees should also possess a strong interest in a STEM-related career demonstrated by participation in extracurricular activities and prior school projects in STEM.  Prior participation in research, NASA programs or similar STEM-related educational programs, both formal and informal, would also indicate the student has a good chance of sustaining interest in STEM.  Student applications will be judged based on academic merit, background, faculty recommendation and demonstrated interest in NASA and a career in STEM. 

Eligibility:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must enrolled as a full-time student (minimum 12 credit hours) at one of the five Virginia Space Grant Consortium member institutions
  • Must have completed at least one year of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) undergraduate program and be classified as a sophomore during the 2014-2015 academic year (must have at least sophomore status by summer 2014 if choosing this option)
  • Must have a grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Must be in a program of study demonstrating an interest in aerospace or supporting NASA’s mission
More information about NASA four Mission Directorates can be found in the links below:

  • Space Technology Mission - Rapidly develops, demonstrates, and infuses revolutionary, high-payoff technologies through transparent, collaborative partnerships, expanding the boundaries of the aerospace enterprise.
  • Aeronautics Research - Enable a safer, more secure, efficient, and environmentally friendly air transportation system.
  • Human Exploration & Operations - NASA space operations related to human exploration in and beyond low Earth orbit.
  • Science - Exploring the Earth-Sun system, our own solar system, and the universe beyond.

Application Review Process

Applications will be found online on the VSGC website.  Applications will only be accepted online.  VSGC will work directly with the institution’s VSGC Undergraduate STEM Bridge Scholarship Program point of contact and VSGC advisory council members to help facilitate a competitive selection process and will make final approval of all student selections.  VSGC will notify awardees of their selection and provide them with the awardee requirements and a description of the scholarship program. Students will be required to notify VSGC to officially accept or decline the scholarship offer.  VSGC will notify each institution of the student’s decision.

Disposition of Unused Funds

If an awardee terminates his/her academic program during the 2014-15 academic year, the University is required to return a prorated share of the scholarship award to the VSGC. Scholarship funds are not transferrable.

Application Timeline:
Awards will be announced by August 2014 with funding provided to students through the universities for the 2014-15 academic year.

Click here to access the STEM Bridge Scholarship Application

Featured STEM Bridge Scholars

Minnae Chabwera is a senior physics major at Hampton University hailing from Newport News, VA. During her sophomore year at Hampton University Minnae was selected to be a STEM Bridge Scholarship Recipient. The following summer she was selected to represent VSGC at the Space Shuttle Symposium hosted by Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA. During the 2011 summer Minnae was also selected to be one of the elite in the NASA Langley Research Aerospace Research Summer Scholars Program. In 2012, for the 2012-2013 school year Minnae has been selected to be a Virginia Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient. She is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and has exceled in her undergraduate career. After she receives her doctorate degree Minnae plans to work for NASA as an aerospace engineer and one day serve them as an astronaut.

Simone Hyater-Adams is a Physics major at Hampton University from Pennsauken New Jersey. Her interests in science and research have blossomed over the years with VSGC, starting in her freshmen year when she began the STEM Bridge Program. She has been involved with many NASA programs including the Un-Conference for the STS-135 Launch in the summer of 2011. Last summer, she also interned at NASA Langley as a part of the Langley Aerospace Resserch Summer Scholars (LARSS) program where she worked with Russell DeYoung on LIDAR research and developed a new interest in science education. Simone is currently involved with Spectroscopy research with Dr. Uwe Hommerich at Hampton and plans to continue her current research in graduate school.

If you would like to find out more information regarding other research scholarship and fellowship programs, visit the links below.