|$50,000 From Duke Energy Foundation Enables Limestone Science Conference To Go High-Tech|
With an emphasis on mobile computing, a $50,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation will be used to transform a Limestone science lab into one akin to those seen on the popular "CSI" television series.
The equipment will be used for the first time with participants of the College's Women in Technology and Science Conference on March 1st. WITS participants will be engaged through experiments and exercises in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
A ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate the Duke Energy Science Lab and showcase the new equipment will be held on Tuesday, February 26, at 10:30 a.m.
Nearly 100 young women from five area high schools in Cherokee, Union, and Spartanburg counties will be invited to attend the day-long conference, which is scheduled for March 1st. Participants will be mentored by Limestone's female STEM faculty and students through a series of mathematics, computer science, chemistry, biology, and athletic training workshops.
WITS participants are also eligible for Limestone's recently announced McMillan Scholarship. The scholarships are designed specifically for young women from South Carolina who have a high school grade point average of 3.0 or better, and are worth $8,000 annually for a total of $32,000.
"We are proud to partner with the Duke Energy Foundation and are most appreciative of the commitment they've shown through their generous gift," said Limestone President Dr. Walt Griffin. "Working together through the WITS Conference, our main objective is to create a STEM pipeline from area high schools to Limestone College and ultimately to industry and corporations in the Carolinas."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of the best career paths leading to high paying jobs are in the STEM fields, which are projected to grow by 17 per cent by 2018. Employers, however, struggle to find qualified female candidates with degrees in STEM disciplines. In fact, a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce stated that women will fill fewer than 25 per cent of STEM jobs.
"At Duke Energy, we have a commitment to champion economic development in all of the communities we serve," said Rick Jiran, District Manager for the region that includes Limestone College. "We are proud to support programs such as this that help expose young people to technical careers and encourage them to keep those skills in the region to help drive future economic development."
Among the high-tech items that will outfit the lab via the Duke Energy Foundation grant are:
• A Comparison Microscope
• A FlashGel System for DNA study
• Trauma Full Body Manikin
• Wireless Vernier System Probes with iPad Minis
• 70-inch Aquos Smart Board
Students already enrolled at Limestone will benefit from the Duke Energy Foundation grant as well by having full access to the equipment during regular academic terms.
Dr. Watkins says one of the reasons there are so few women in science and technology fields is a problem of self-efficacy. "Many of the female students I've advised have said that they do not feel encouraged or qualified to pursue technology and health degrees, but their test scores show otherwise. Many of these students may not have had their hands on technological equipment, including gadgets, as often as their male counterparts but data does indicate that once women get over that initial hurdle, they actually surpass males."