Kirkland, Wash. – For the first time, Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) received two grant awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Total funding is nearly $800,000. The NSF awarded a $199,380 grant for the development of the Pacific Northwest Photonics Technology Project (PNW Photonics) and a $580,000 grant for the Future Tech Stars NSF S-STEM Scholarship Program (Future Tech Stars) to develop a scholarship program for academically talented and low-income, non-traditional students in four Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) disciplines.
As the only public Institute of Technology in Washington state, LWTech is uniquely positioned to develop the first two-year photonics program in the state. Photonics technology is the practical application of light, including lasers. With a direct correlation between major fields of study in higher education and early career earnings, it is clear that STEM-based technical education is critical to the economy of this region and the nation. PNW Photonics at LWTech addresses the growing need for a skilled workforce to support the vibrant photonics industry in the Greater Puget Sound region. LWTech will produce associate degree photonics technicians for employment in the Pacific Northwest, and will develop a unique 70-credit photonics technology certificate within the advanced manufacturing AAS degree programs. This pipeline will create the only employer-validated, NSF-affiliated photonics program in Washington.
Through The Future Tech Stars NSF S-STEM Scholarship Program (Future Tech Stars) LWTech will award $500,000 in student scholarships, $125,000 a year in scholarships to approximately 25 full-time, low-income, non-traditional students in four STEM disciplines. Each scholarship will be approximately $5,000, and the LWTech Foundation will be supporting and administering the scholarship applications. Grant funding will support students who wish to enter information technology, applications development, digital media, or computer networking technology programs. Future Tech Stars will focus on students who might not otherwise be able to attend school because of financial difficulty or who might only be able to attend part-time due to financial constraints. In this application, LWTech is partnering with Seattle Goodwill and will collaborate as part of Goodwill’s Digital Literacy Initiative.
Future Tech Stars will also create and foster cross-disciplinary collaboration opportunities for students to work on real world, problem-based learning projects, and will support the development of curriculum that will aid the pathways of veterans, women and other non-traditional and traditional students to prepare them for new, emerging technologies. By helping this student population complete their education, LWTech will help create a future pool of employees who are able to meet the needs of high-tech employers in the Greater Puget Sound Region.
“Receiving LWTech’s first-ever NSF grants exemplifies how innovative the culture is at the college. By developing curriculum in emerging fields, like photonics, science, technology, engineering, and math, we are finding ways to support our students while meeting the needs of industry,” commented Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, president of LWTech. “This is a triple win. A win for our students, industry and our college.”
“It’s great to see the National Science Foundation investing in educational institutions like Lake Washington Institute of Technology to build the 21st century workforce our economy needs,” Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) said. “Washington’s First District has cutting edge biotech firms, aerospace suppliers and software companies – all of which need high-skilled workers trained in STEM fields. These scholarships for low-income students will go a long way in moving our innovation economy forward.”
The PNW Photonics program will begin during the 2015-2016 academic year. Students who are interested in applying for the Future Tech Stars scholarships will be able to do so in the 2015-2016 academic year.
As the only public institute of technology in Washington state, Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) a provides students with the latest cutting edge skills relevant to today’s workplace. LWTech offers six bachelor’s degrees, more than 45 associate degrees, and more than 85 professional certificates in 44 areas of study, including STEM-focused programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.