Trenton – Students from underserved communities that are underrepresented in STEM fields would be provided with greater educational opportunities to prepare themselves for New Jersey’s innovation economy through a new program created by legislation authored by Senator Paul Sarlo and Senator Troy Singleton.
The bill, S-3685, would create the “ACES” scholarship program to broaden opportunities by “Accessing Careers in Engineering and Science.”
“Expanding opportunities for underserved students to gain the knowledge and skills in science and technology will help advance New Jersey’s innovation economy,” said Senator Sarlo, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee. “The ACES program will provide exposure to science and technology disciplines with an emphasis on hands-on experience. It will open doors of opportunity where they can excel.”
The innovative program would be modelled after a successful effort at the Stevens Institute of Technology. In its first year, Stevens experienced a 60 percent increase in underrepresented minority participation in precollege STEM summer programs.
“Exposure to the sciences and technology through STEM programs will set this generation up for success in the future,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “However, we must ensure that this opportunity exists for all of our students, especially those who have been traditionally underrepresented in this field. By creating the ACES program for these high school students, we are expanding their access to the innovation economy.”
Students who participate would be required to be a member of an underserved community or a member of a group that is underrepresented in the STEM fields. An initial investment of $750,000 and rising to $2.5 million annually after four years, matched with institution and private sector funding, the program would produce 200 high school students and 100 college graduates per year.
The ACES Program would consist of a residential pre-college summer program for selected high school students who attend a partner high school and an undergraduate ACES Scholar program.
Under the bill, the Secretary of Higher Education would select up to seven public or independent research universities in New Jersey.
The bill was approved by the Senate Higher Education Committee.