The highest number of Indiana Space Grant Consortium (INSGC) scholarships ever to be received at AU happened this year. The INSGC awarded scholarships to 11 AU students, the highest number of recipients at any college or university in the state of Indiana. Two $15,000 grants were also awarded to faculty members.
AU is one of 15 Indiana universities and colleges affiliated with INSGC, a program dedicated to offering educational support and funding to students and faculty involved in STEM fields. INSGC, the Indiana division of Space Grant national network, serves as the main source for NASA-related information, scholarships, grants and programs in the state of Indiana.
Each year, the program offers students the chance to apply for a $1,500 scholarship via an online application process that requires students to answer prompts related to their interest in a STEM career. Dr. Jennifer Coy, chair of the Department of Computer Science, serves as AU’s representative, or affiliate director, for INSGC.
“The Liberal Arts program at AU makes our students effective communicators, and that certainly contributes to their success,” said Coy. “The quality of the education that our STEM students receive is well-recognized, and the number of scholarships awarded to our students certainly reflects that.”
INSGC scholarships are awarded to students with majors in a STEM field and at least a 2.5 GPA. Among the scholarship recipients from AU are physics, biology, computer science, math education, psychology and mechanical engineering majors.
This year’s INSGC scholarship recipients are Brianna Beer, Hayley Bower, Christina Coats, Erin Eberly, Ashley King, Ian Leatherman, Abrielle Moyer, Lizette Romero, Robert Shaver, Conner Todd and Ally Wallace.
Dr. Chad Wallace, dean of the School of Science and Engineering, believes that the recommendation letters that students were asked to submit with their online scholarship applications may have played a part in their overall success.
“My hunch is that’s why we’re so successful,” said Wallace. “At a school like AU, our faculty know our students really well. We don’t simply say in a recommendation letter that ‘they did well in my class.’ We would know the character of our students, if they’re good writers and good speakers and if they have integrity.”
Dr. Josiah Kunz, professor of physics, and Dr. Lee Van Groningen, professor of mathematics, also received $15,000 INSGC grants to fund research projects in their areas of specialization. Kunz’s project, “Beamline Architect,” will allow two AU students to help design a software simulation of a particle accelerator using computer game writing software.
Van Groningen’s project, titled “Research Experiences in Mathematics,” will give three AU students the opportunity to conduct original research and present their findings on “eigenvalues of low rank centrosymmetric matrices.” Mathematics professors Dr. Courtney Taylor and Dr. Justin Lambright received INSGC grants in recent years for research projects pertaining to mathematics as well.
“Each year, we get one to two grants from INSGC, which means that we have good ideas,” said Wallace. “This isn’t just research that the faculty member does. Students do the research with them and I love it when I see a student doing research with a faculty member.”
Other INSGC-funded projects AU has participated in include developing a summer STEM program aimed toward high school students and designing, 3D printing and building a rocket with software able to record acceleration and temperature upon launch.
Wallace expressed that he was “incredibly proud” of the students and faculty involved in the School of Science and Engineering this year. “AU students are adding to the math and science knowledge that’s out there,” he said. “And we don’t wait until we graduate from AU to start doing it.”