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A Special Group K'NEX at NCC

By Heidi Butler
August 14, 2008

Call them smart. Call them scholars. Call them SMaRT Scholars.

SMaRT Scholars are the newest species of scholarship recipients at Northampton Community College.

What characteristics do they share? They are smart. They gravitate to science, math, engineering or technology, and they might not have been able to pursue those interests - so vital to the nation's future - without financial aid.

Enter the National Science Foundation. A $545,091 grant from the National Science Foundation will make it possible for 54 SMaRT Scholars to enroll at Northampton Community College over the next four years.

The first twenty began their studies this month, starting with a two-day orientation program that gave them the opportunity to get to know the faculty members they'll be working with over the next two years, to tour some of the College's laboratory facilities, to meet with scientists, entrepreneurs and industry representatives, and to learn about the many resources that will be available to them including tutoring, mentoring, field trips, speakers and internships.

Team-building activities began the first morning with group problem-solving exercises and a K'NEX building contest. Even though classes in the sciences are demanding, "being part of a cohort will help you get through," Karen Parker told the students. The associate professor of electronics technology also predicted that the bonds the students establish with each other now will help them later when they are working.

"You are part of a very special group," said Carolyn Bortz, dean of allied health and sciences. "You've put a stake in the ground to make a viable career for yourself. It's going to be a great experience."

A study conducted by the National Science Foundation in 2006 showed that 44% of new scientists and engineers attended a community college at some point in their lives. Foundation officials expect community colleges to provide a significant source of brainpower in fields deemed critical to the nation's future.

The 2008 SMaRT Scholars pictured above and their fields of interest are Jessica Baran (chemical technology), Lauren Brown (computer science), Iyoka Burkett (biological science), Janette Burkholder (math/physics), Nicholas Check (electromechanical), Kenneth Cooper, Jr., (electronics technology), Thomas George, Jr. (chemistry), Anthony Gomez (biological science), Samuel Guman (biotechnology), Arthur Harris (engineering), Sean Hicks (biological science), Rachel Hillegas (biological science), Jennifer Juska, (biological science), Ethan Keys (electronics technology), Steven McConnell (computer information systems), Kurt Paukovits (engineering), Jonathan Romano (biological science), Haillie Sabino, (biological science), and Douglas Williams (computer science).

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