YSU Prof Gets $1M NSF Grant to Develop Commuter Engineering Students

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Cory Brozina, a professor at Youngstown State University and director of first-year engineering at the university’s Rayen School of Engineering, has been awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The award is the largest ever made to Youngstown State. The funds will support the Developing and Encouraging Engineering Professionals within a Commuter Student Population – or Deep-C – which aims to increase enrollment and graduation rates of commuter engineering students at YSU.

“This award has the opportunity to change the national landscape of how universities support commuter students studying engineering,” Brozina said in a statement. “Starting locally at YSU, we plan to not only increase enrollment but increase excitement in the Rayen School of Engineering, and help more students graduate with engineering degrees.”

The project focuses on the challenges commuter students face and “applies recognized scholarly techniques and research tools to study impacts of commuter status on student success in engineering, while evolving concrete strategies to improve the student experience more broadly.”

The four focus areas are: 

  • Recruitment initiatives for women’s outreach and pre-college programs to increase enrollment in engineering programs.
  • $624,000 in scholarships distributed to two cohorts of YSU commuter engineering students who are eligible for Pell grants.
  • Scholarship recipients will also participate in programs focused on community building, mentoring and development of professional and leadership skills.
  • Research on how YSU and other universities can best support the needs of engineering students who commute to campus.

Brozina is the principal investigator on Deep-C and is joined by Hazel Marie, distinguished professor and coordinator of the mechanical engineering program at YSU, and Kathleen Cripe, a distinguished professor of teacher education.

The project is funded by NSF’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, which seeks to increase the number of academically-talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields. It also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers, and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic/career pathways of students.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.