As part of its ongoing effort to help member institutions magnify their economic impact, APLU recently announced finalists for its 2020 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards. The awards honor institutions performing exemplary work to advance the economic wellbeing of their states, regions, and the nation through a variety of efforts. In this post, APLU spotlights California State University, Northridge and Purdue University as finalists in the “Talent” IEP Awards category, for their exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development. One of the finalists will be named the Talent category award winner during the APLU Annual Meeting.
Seeking to diversify the biomedical research workforce, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) established the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) program in 2014 with support from the National Institutes of Health. The effort seeks to cultivate talent and address health inequities through education, research, and community engagement.
Students and mentors develop research questions, methods, interpretations, and applications through critical race theory, providing a framework for critically investigating how legal, educational, and now, healthcare systems reproduce and normalize racism in society. Students begin with a Summer JumpStart program to orient them to the ethical and technical aspects of biomedical research, take advanced research methods and professional development courses, and participate in summer research training opportunities. CSUN has also formed the Health Equity Research and Education Center to support faculty members and postdoctoral scholars who mentor undergraduate researchers.
BUILD has supported and trained nearly 200 students and over 100 faculty mentors who work together on mutual biomedical research projects and present their work at professional conferences. Students originate from CSUN as well as four community college pipeline partners, including East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles Valley College, Los Angeles Pierce College, and Pasadena City College.
To help improve college readiness and cultivate diversity in STEM disciplines, Purdue University opened its first location of Purdue Polytechnic High School (PPHS) in 2017. PPHS takes a radically different approach to high school education. They’ve replaced the traditional high school model with a personalized, flexible schedule that allows each student to learn at their own pace and competency-based education in which students are always encouraged to improve and grow.
In order to provide students with real-world experience and early career exposure, PPHS, in tandem with local industry leaders like Subaru, Salesforce, and Eskanazi, created industry projects. These projects include a field visit to an industry partner site where students learn about the challenges partners are trying to solve and support and mentorship throughout the project cycle. Students then go back to school, with added real-world experience, mentorship and the design-thinking process to solve one of the very real challenges facing industry today. Aimed at sparking their curiosity and building collaborative skills, the instructional approach allows students to pursue passion projects in which they have choice and voice in how they apply their knowledge and skills. Students work with personalized learning coaches and classmates who advise them on their goals and work. Purdue University also helps train teachers at the high school to facilitate college-level courses that help place students on track for academic success when they reach college.
Graduates from Purdue Polytechnic High School score significantly better than benchmarked peers on college readiness assessments. Students in their junior year meeting Purdue University admissions criteria are invited to live on campus for a least one week over the summer to earn college credit and get a taste of the college experience. Building on this model, Purdue Polytechnic High School opened its second Indianapolis campus in 2019 and its third campus in South Bend in August of 2020.