Walsh University is ready to take science education to new levels. The university recently announced that it will redesign is chemistry education program to better meet the needs of students and prepare them for careers.

Walsh University is ready to take science education to new levels. The university recently announced that it will redesign is chemistry education program to better meet the needs of students and prepare them for careers.

In a release issued by the school, Walsh announced that it would do this with support from a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant worth nearly $600,000.

“NSF grants are very competitive and Walsh University is honored to receive one,” Walsh University President Richard Jusseaume said in the release. “It is a strong endorsement of our faculty and the quality of our programs. The University has always had a tradition of excellence, and in recent years, we have renewed our commitment to extend that tradition more deeply into the areas of scholarship and research.”

The NSF grant was awarded to the Walsh Division of Mathematics and Sciences to help create the STAR Chemistry Program: “Inspiring, Educating, and Preparing Young Science Talent for an American Ready Workforce.”

The university will invest some grant funding in students looking to obtain a degree in chemistry. Money from the NSF will allow Walsh to award up to 16 scholarships worth between $5,000 and $10,000 to students who show great academic ability and also demonstrate financial need.

“A very important part of Walsh’s mission is to promote academic excellence and close student-teacher interactions,” Jusseaume said. “The NSF grant along with initiatives such as our new Center for Science Innovation will help to reinforce that mission while also providing students interested in pursuing careers in the sciences the resources they require for success.”

To help develop young chemists, the STAR program is bringing together some incredible resources.

 “What this entails is a restructuring of a traditional chemistry major to make it more flexible and market appropriate,” Division of Mathematics and Sciences Chair Michael Dunphy, Ph.D said in a release. “We will be able to provide more choices for our students and focus on internships to help prepare students to enter the workforce.”

As part of that reconstruction, Walsh will take two groups of eight students –  one in 2015 and the other in 2016 – to live and take classes in a community that helps them to develop their identity as chemists.

“The S-STEM grant will serve as a catalyst to create momentum for what we hope will be a stellar chemistry major cohort.” Dunphy said in the release. “This initiative will move Walsh to the next level in reputation and performance relative to the quality of our chemistry graduates and our community involvement.”

 Other components of the new-look chemistry majors will better prepare students for careers in chemistry and allow for internship and laboratory experience while creating a stronger partnership with the university and industry leaders. Every second week, the Career Series will allow for open dialogues about education and industry standards as well as career opportunities.

“We realized we couldn’t just create a Career Series, we had to align our curriculum to real jobs available in northeast Ohio,” Associate Professor of Chemistry and Walsh’s NSF grant Principal Investigator Peter Tandler, Ph.D said in a release. “Companies want experience as well as a bachelor’s degree. Our new curriculum integrates the American Chemical Society criteria for a certified degree with coursework and internships that produce graduates with expertise that fits our local workforce needs. STAR scholars will take courses that tie directly to regional industries such as synthetic and metal material, environmental and green, and fuels and energy chemistry.”

With support from the NFS grant, Walsh will also be able to reach out to eligible STAR candidates through recruiting programs that collaborate with high schools, science workshops and science fairs.

Through grant facilitation by Walsh’s Director of Grants and Sponsored Research Rachel Hammel, the STAR Program is under the direction of Walsh chemistry faculty members Dr. Peter Tandler, Dr. Amy Heston, Dr. Neil Walsh, Dr. Michael Dunphy and Dr. Nisreen A. Nusair.