Project ENGAGES continues to build momentum.
When Project ENGAGES was launched in June 2013, it marked the beginning of a new era in the evolution of bioengineering/bioscience education at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Since that time, the ambitious program, designed to raise the awareness of students in economically-challenged, minority-serving public schools to the world of engineering, science and technology, has become part of the natural fabric in the biotech community at Georgia Tech.
But the stories and accomplishments of the program and its students during that first full year have set the pace for an interesting and fruitful evolution for Project ENGAGES (which stands for Engaging New Generations at Georgia Tech through Engineering and Science).
The story begins, as mentioned, in June 2013, when six female students from Coretta Scott King and six male students from the BEST Academy were selected for the program following a rigorous interview process.
In August 2013, Project ENGAGES moved into its new home on the World Wide Web – www.projectengage.gatech.edu, where anyone can find information about the program and the students who comprise it. Around the same time, the program was featured in a five-part radio series, reported by Jim Burress of Atlanta’s National Public Radio affiliate, WABE 90.1.
By September, Project ENGAGES program staff was being recognized across the university for their dedication and hard work, earning the Georgia Tech Diversity Champion Award in September 2013.
During the academic year, while classroom interactions (led by Georgia Tech researchers) were conducted with the biology classes of both partner schools, the Project ENGAGES high school students immersed themselves in labs at the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, working on an array of impressive projects, and representing themselves well in competition.
Eight of the 10 young scholars did work that made it to the State Science Fair. Two of them were selected for entry in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (held in Los Angeles, spring of 2014). One student took first place, and another was awarded a special Biotechnology Award cash prize sponsored by Emory University.
These students provided a solid foundation for the program. Five of them are continuing in the second year of Project ENGAGES, and all five who graduated from the program (they were high school seniors last year) are now attending college with the intention of pursuing bioscience-related careers. They have left the labs of Georgia Tech and are now attending Valdosta State University, Georgia College and State University, Brandeis University, Western Carolina University and Howard University. Two out of the five student students received full scholarships (one of them a POSSE Scholarship), and three of the five are first-generation college students.
In other words: Mission accomplished, so far. Project ENGAGES continues to build momentum. The program has expanded to include 10 new students in the Biotechnology Research Track and nine students in the brand new Engineering Research Track, which means a total of 24 Project ENGAGES students for the 2014-2015 academic year.