PCCC Gets $1.7 million STEM Grant

PCCC student reading his book in the Library

Passaic County Community College Receives $1.7 Million Federal Grant to Enhance Science, Technology, and Math Education

PCCC Introduces Innovative Program with Local High Schools to Increase Student Success in STEM Areas

PATERSON, NJ – Passaic County Community College (PCCC) has received a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand and enhance education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

In response, PCCC constructed a state-of-the art STEM Learning Center on its main campus in Paterson and launched an ambitious two-year project in collaboration with seven local schools entitled Passaic Partners for STEM Innovation and Achievement (PPSIA).


Students in Classroom

PCCC science professor Ann Deblinger teaches STEM
summer students in the new multi-functional  Learning Center

The project’s main goals are to increase the number of students enrolling into the College’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs and to improve the rates at which students successfully complete the programs and transfer to four-year institutions. To achieve these goals, the multi-part project emphasizes unique, interactive learning experiences and provides intensive support for students before, during, and at the conclusion of their PCCC college experience. (See "How It Works" link below for details)

The project is expected to increase by five percent (by the end of the two-year period) the rates of students who complete STEM programs at PCCC and who successfully continue on to university level.

“We are very excited about what this will mean for the future of STEM studies and careers,” said Kate Joyce, an environmental science professor at PCCC and director of the College’s STEM grant program. “Our science and math programs are challenging and have tended to have high attrition rates,” she noted.  “We think this project will enable us to engage and retain more students.”

Biology professor Thomas van Aken, coordinator of the STEM grant program at PCCC, emphasized the project’s unique interactive approach. “We want students to see how the various STEM disciplines impact each other and how they are relevant to everyday life,” he said. Van Aken pointed out that students will also be exposed to career options they may never have thought about before.


PCCC Science Professors
PCCC science professors (from left ) Megan Sloan,
Tom van Aken and Kate Joyce check out equipment
in the new STEM Learning Center


Stressing the need to prepare students for a future in which STEM skills will be in demand and recognizing the challenges of teaching STEM subjects in low-income area schools, the administrators hope the project will continue beyond the initial two years.