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News | 2 min read

Dominion partners with VSU and VCU to guide more minority students toward STEM

October 26, 2022

Dominion partners with VCU and VSU

Two innovative partnerships are at the heart of Virginia State University’s effort to encourage African American students to pursue studies in engineering, a field in which minorities traditionally have been underrepresented.

VSU is partnering for the second year in a row with Dominion Energy to give junior and senior students in electrical and mechanical engineering programs access to careers in the state. The Power and Energy Concentration program selects 10 promising students for eight weeks of on-site classes at Dominion Energy’s training facility in Chester. And the university is also partnering with Virginia Commonwealth University in an effort to supply local talent to CIVICA pharmaceutical facilities under development in Petersburg and at the Meadowville Technology Park in Chesterfield.

VSU, which doesn’t offer a degree in chemical engineering, is sending students to earn chemical engineering degrees at VCU. The $6 million program is exclusively for students pursuing careers in pharmaceutical engineering. Build Back Better grants from the federal government fund the initiative. “We don’t train students for us,” says Benedict Uzochukwu, chair of VSU’s Department of Applied Engineering Technology. “We train for organizations. And that’s why we invite organizations like Dominion – like Altria, Lockheed Martin and many other companies – to be part of our Industry Advisory Council.”

Partnerships like these can help combat underrepresentation of African Americans and other minorities in STEM fields. The National Science Foundation, which compiles data about employment and education in STEM fields, defines underrepresentation as a negative gap between presence in the population at large and participation in education or employment. African Americans, who represent roughly 13% of the population, earned merely 4.3% of undergraduate engineering degrees in 2018, a gap of about 8.7%.

Read the full story here.