Community college gets donation from National Science Foundation | NevadaAppeal.com
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Community college gets donation from National Science Foundation

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer
Dr. Carol Lucey, president of Western Nevada Community College, listens as engineering instructor Dave Williams discusses the impact of a $336,900 grant to the college. The grant will be used to fund 214 engineering scholarships over the next four years. Photo by Rick Gunn.
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Engineering instructor Dave Williams said he often sees his students at Western Nevada Community College struggling to stretch limited time and money to continue their studies.

He now has new hope to offer them.

College officials announced a donation Wednesday of nearly $337,000 from the National Science Foundation, which will pay for 214 engineering scholarships over four years.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to make a real difference in this community,” Williams told a crowd of educators and technology leaders assembled for the announcement. “Students will not have to work as many hours to afford to go to school.”

The scholarships will bolster the college’s Workforce Initiative for Nevada Students in Engineering program, which stresses the importance of working closely with the community.

Williams cited a study in which 60 percent of local industries complained that it is very difficult to find qualified applicants to fill positions.

“Internships are critically important,” Williams said. “If we can turn out graduates with some work experience, we’ll do a far better job of meeting the needs of industry than is otherwise possible.”

The scholarships will allow students to spend less time working in unrelated jobs and more time focusing on career-related internships.

Juan Hernandez, 21, has worked for a year as an engineering intern with the Nevada Department of Transportation through the college’s program.

Although he will graduate before the scholarships are available, the 2001 Carson High School graduate said he has benefited from the experience.

“If it wasn’t for this school and the programs here, people like myself wouldn’t be able to pursue their dreams,” he said. “A lot of people can’t go to the university right away.”

Beginning in January, 40 scholarships will be awarded for $1,500 a semester. The scholarship will continue for two years as long as the recipient maintains eligibility.

New scholarships will continue to open up for first-time applicants.

Officials hope to establish an alternate source of funding to continue the scholarships once the grant expires in December 2007.

YOU CAN HELP

Companies interested in providing internships to Western Nevada Community College students can call Dave Williams at 445-3299 or Tim Morsani at 445-4427.