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NSF Grant Funds Rural Outreach

Filling the pipeline with the next generation of chemists, engineers and rocket scientists isn’t easy. New research at NC State is designed to drive U.S. students to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Sarah Stein, associate professor of communication, recently received a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to bring advanced mathematics software to rural, underserved high schools in North Carolina through NC State’s innovative cloud computing solution, the Virtual Computing Lab (VCL). The program, called “Scale-Up: Scaling up STEM Learning with the VCL,” is designed to be replicated across the state and country. Stein’s colleagues on the project include Dr. Eric Wiebe and Dr. Karen Hollebrands, both associate professors of mathematics, science and technology education, and Dr. Henry Schaffer, coordinator of special IT projects in the Office of Information Technology.

Students and teachers will be able to access the VCL remotely from computers in their classrooms, libraries or at home. Rather than installing expensive software on individual computers, they will be able to access software packages that run on powerful remote servers.