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About NSC Programs

In 2011 the National STEM Consortium (NSC), a collaborative of ten leading community colleges in nine states, received a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training grant to develop nationally portable, certificate-level college programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and to build a national model of multi-college cooperation in the design and delivery of high quality, labor market-driven occupational certificate programs.

Ten colleges from across the United States participated in this project: Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, Clover Park Technical College and South Seattle College in Washington, the College of Lake County in Illinois, Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, Macomb Community College in Michigan, Northwest Arkansas Community College, and Roane State Community College in Tennessee.

The project's results are impressive. The ten colleges achieved the goals of the grant through an exceptional collaborative effort. Multi-college teams together with industry experts created new technical curricula in five high-wage, high-skill STEM fields:

All curricula developed under this project are free and open educational resources available on two online repositories: Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative and California State University's MERLOT/Skills Commons.

Success Strategies

Simply creating new content was not enough. The consortium was committed to developing a model to increase student success. The NSC “completion model” combined high-quality curriculum with embedded, contextualized remediation (the “STEM Bridge”), industry-recognized credentials, and evidence-based strategies - cohort enrollment, block scheduling, whole program design, employer linkages, and the concierge-style assistance of a student navigator. The model worked: the 1400 students enrolled in NSC programs during the grant period achieved a 69% on-time completion rate (over three times the typical completion rate for certificates or degrees in public community colleges) – and secured good jobs! Partner colleges report that over 80% of NSC program completers found employment in their chosen industries earning family-sustaining wages.

The “STEM Bridge”

An innovative educational strategy the NSC developed to improve completion and success rates of students was the creation of a two-part STEM Bridge Program.

The STEM Readiness and STEM Foundations courses are accessible at Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative.