To support minority researchers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Purdue University, the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (0NR), and a coalition of other schools have launched the Blue Integrated Partnerships.

A Pew Research study supports data that minorities are underrepresented in STEM citing limited access to quality education, discriminatory hiring and promotion practices — and a lack of support to thrive in the field. Many Black and brown students may be less inclined to complete their studies due to not having equal opportunities like their white counterparts.

“We call this a quiet crisis,” said Luciano CastilloPurdue’s Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems in Mechanical Engineering, the program’s principal investigator, according to a press release from Purdue University. “It’s not just a matter of trying to raise numbers. Minority students feel that they don’t have the tools to succeed in science and engineering careers. We want to give these students every available opportunity to overcome those barriers, to solve the big problems of tomorrow.”

Partners Join Forces To Ensure STEM Students Succeed

Through the proposed program, more minority students can receive the support they rightfully deserve with the aid of a $2.8 million grant from the ONR’s Mission Capable, Persistent and Survivable Platforms Department. The program has incentivized more partners to join in diversifying the STEM field.

According to a press release, onboarding partners will include Tuskegee University, the University of Puerto Rico and its 11 campuses; the U.S. Naval Academy; NASA; and a growing list of industry partners, government agencies, and universities.

Blue Integrated Partnerships will round up underserved minority students and provide them an opportunity to partake in research projects and workshops at Purdue University and other participating institutions. The overarching goal is to ensure students are ready to pursue their academic ventures.

Students Will Receive Support To Thrive Long-Term

To revitalize minority students’ involvement in STEM long-term, the coalition of partners will create a system with mentors and forge connections with leaders within the industry, academia, military, and other STEM fields to further support students.

“We want this program to become a super-pipeline,” Castillo said, according to a press release. “K-12 students will learn what it takes to attend a STEM school like Purdue. Undergraduate students at minority-serving institutions learn how to conduct world-class research. Graduate students learn what it takes to become a transformational scientist and leader. This is how we change the story and bring true diversity to academia, which in turn will change the world.”