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The University of Texas-Pan American recently received a $3.7 million award for four years with a possible $1 million for the fifth year from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) HBCU/MI program to establish a Center of Excellence in STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). UTPA was one of three institutions across the nation to receive the award.

What role does UTPA have in the grant?

As the lead institution of the award, the University of Texas-Pan American, along with its South Texas collaborators: South Texas College, Texas A&M International University-Laredo, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, University of Texas-Brownsville, and University of Texas-San Antonio will provide activities to strengthen STEM academic programs and to increase the number of STEM graduates particularly those from underrepresented groups. The grant builds upon the $2.4 million Department of Education grant the University was awarded in 2008-2011.

How is the grant for the Center of Excellence organized?

With the new DoD grant, five activities will be implemented. Three of the activities pertain to the incorporation of Challenge-Based Instruction (CBI) into STEM curriculum, faculty professional development in CBI, and the development of a fourth-year CBI curriculum for the Texas Pre-Freshmen Engineering (TexPREP) program, a middle- and high-school student outreach activity. The collaborating institutions will participate in faculty professional development of CBI and/or course development in CBI. The fourth activity consists of involving undergraduate students in research activities to encourage them to pursue STEM careers and graduate school. Finally, the fifth activity involves establishing a central location for a STEM Student and Faculty Resource Program focusing on recruitment, retention and career/graduate school development of students in STEM majors.

Center Activities

Learn about the activities implemented in the Center of Excellence in STEM Education to strengthen STEM academic programs and increase the number of graduates in STEM fields by clicking on the thumbnails below.

Activity I
Activity II
Activity III
Activity IV
Activity V










Who is involved in this grant?

The participating faculty and activity directors involved in the grant are: Dr. Cristina Villalobos (PI) with CoPIs: Dr. Robert Freeman, Dr. Arturo Fuentes, Dr. Steve Crown, Dr. Richard Fowler, Dr. Olga Ramirez, Dr. Xiaohui Wang, and Dr. Miguel Gonzalez.

External Advisory Committee

Dr. Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Arizona State University

Dr. Amr El-Bakry, ExxonMobil Production Company

Dr. Peter Golding, Dept. of Metallurgy & Materials Engineering, UT-El Paso

Dr. Valerie Taylor, Dept. of Computer Science, Texas A&M-College Station


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