Global research and development firm Battelle is investing $200K over two years to provide STEM research opportunities for students at Maryland’s Morgan State University and Bowie State University.
The investment is the first phase of a new Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Consortium from Battelle. Through the program, students from Prince George’s County-based Bowie State and Baltimore-based Morgan State with receive “externship” opportunties with Battelle scientists and engineers, as well as within the government programs that Battelle supports.
Students from the two universities will be the first to participate in this experiential learning programming, which Battelle hopes to expand in the future.
It’s a move from the science and technology firm geared toward increasing diversity in technical roles. It’s happening against the backdrop of disparities across the spectrum of industries in STEM: Between 2014 and 2019, the number of U.S. technical employees who are Black or Latinx rose by less than a percentage point at Google and Microsoft, according to reporting by Wired, based on numbers self-reported by the tech giants.
“Battelle recognizes the critical importance of representation in STEM,” Wes Hall, VP of philanthropy and education at Batelle, said in a statement. “With the creation of the Consortium, we seek to equip students with the workplace experiences and personal networks that they need to successfully pursue employment in scientific fields.”
In Maryland, Battelle has about 100 employees in two facilities — one in Aberdeen called the BEST Center, and another in Baltimore focused on public health research. Those facilities could be places where HBCU STEM students participate in programming for the externships, which Battelle said will evolve into seminars, mentorship opportunities, participation on thesis committees and research collaborations, as well as employment.
Bowie State will match students to the program from programs including computer science, mathematics, natural sciences, and technology and security. Morgan State will match students from its School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences. and the School of Engineering.
“Diversity drives innovation and we are proud to invest in the future scientists and engineers studying at HBCUs,” said Storm Woods, Battelle’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion. “We look forward to working with and learning from these incredible scholars.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-