SUNY Polytechnic Institute Announces $750,000 in Funding from the National Science Foundation to Support Degree Completion for Students in Engineering and Engineering Technology Programs

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Announces $750,000 in Funding from the National Science Foundation to Support Degree Completion for Students in Engineering and Engineering Technology Programs

Tuesday, October 18, 2022 - 10:51
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L to R: Professors Shen and Rodak and Andrew Cotronea

For Release:           Immediate – October 18, 2022
Contact:                  Steve Ference, Director of University Communications
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UTICA, NY – SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) announced today that Associate Professor of Engineering Dr. Carolyn Rodak, with co-investigators Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. Edmond Rusjan, Assistant Professor of Engineering Dr. Jiayue Shen, and Andrew Cotronea, SUNY Poly Coordinator of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), has received $750,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program. The award seeks to support degree completion by students in engineering and engineering technology programs by focusing on experiential learning and self-directed professional development to further bolster New York State’s innovation workforce.

“I am thrilled to salute Drs. Rodak, Rusjan, Shen, and Andrew Cotronea for receiving this award, which will undoubtedly have a powerful impact on students’ lives,” said SUNY Poly Acting President Dr. Tod A. Laursen. “This program will immediately produce recognizable results as it supports engineering-focused students with scholarships. But also longer-term, it will lead to the establishment of an important, replicable model for enabling student success across a number of degree programs, as the institute continues to focus on the ways it can support the needs of New York State’s advanced workforce.”

“Congratulations to the team of SUNY Poly investigators who will execute this exciting initiative,” said Interim Vice President of Research and Empire Innovation Professor of Nanobioscience Dr. Nathaniel Cady. “In addition to the exciting hands-on engineering-centered research opportunities, this initiative will provide a pathway for us to better understand how to increase student success so they can obtain STEM-focused careers for which our industry partners are eager to hire.”

The six-year SUNY Poly initiative will initially focus on providing scholarships and programmatic support to approximately 20 undergraduate students who are studying Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering Technology, or Mechanical Engineering Technology. Scholarships will be awarded to first-year students and transfer students starting in the Fall of 2024. Complementing the financial support, the program will focus on facilitating experiential learning opportunities through internships and hands-on undergraduate research in the engineering fields.

As they participate in the SUNY Poly S-STEM program, the selected scholars will also gain access to specialized programming, such as a dedicated first-year seminar (FYS), additional mathematical preparation, faculty mentorships, and funding to enable self-directed professional development opportunities.

“On behalf of SUNY Poly, I am proud to congratulate Professors Rodak, Rusjan, and Shen, along with CSTEP Coordinator Andrew Cotronea, for receiving this meaningful grant that connects financial support with programmatic initiatives to enhance degree completion in critical areas of engineering and engineering technology which are in high-demand,” said SUNY Poly Interim Dean of the College of Engineering Dr. Michael Carpenter. “This grant is an excellent example of SUNY Poly’s educational capabilities that meet students where they are and prepare them for success in the ‘real world’ by providing exciting undergraduate opportunities, paired with self-directed professional development and continuing education, which are particularly important for working toward professional licensure.”

“This award provides new ways to empower engineering students at SUNY Poly, and I am thrilled to congratulate the faculty on their hard work,” said SUNY Poly Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Dr. Andrew Russell. “We are especially pleased to see the strong collaboration between our College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Engineering, and I am sure that SUNY Poly’s interdisciplinary approach will enhance student success.”

Drs. Rodak and Shen will act as the primary points of contact to support students within their academic departments (engineering and engineering technology, respectively).  Dr. Rusjan will work with the incoming S-STEM scholars to support mathematical preparation as they prepare to start their education at SUNY Poly. Andrew Cotronea will help with much of the professional development and career programming, maximizing collaborative events with other groups on campus such as CSTEP, while an external evaluator will work closely with the team to determine and work to maximize the program’s effectiveness.

“I am grateful to the NSF S-STEM program for funding this critical initiative which will provide motivated students with the resources, educational opportunities, and professional guidance to succeed in areas of engineering that offer exciting, long-term career prospects in high-demand,” said Professor Rodak. “We are also excited to work collaboratively with many groups on campus, including Financial Aid, Career Services, CSTEP, EOP, the Center for Student Involvement, student clubs, the summer undergraduate research program (SURP) and our own faculty, as well as with local industry, which will offer internships and other first-hand learning experiences. I would also like to thank Rochester Institute of Technology’s Dr. Gary Skuse and Hope College’s Dr. John Krupczak for their guidance which led to the successful award, as well as the one dozen industry and community partners who submitted supportive letters of collaboration.”

“This grant is an excellent way to further build a strong pipeline of prospective students, and I look forward to it providing them with even greater access to our experiential engineering-focused academic opportunities that open the doors to incredible lifetime career opportunities,” said Marybeth Lyons, SUNY Poly Vice President for Student Affairs and Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management.

The National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program “supports institutions of higher education to fund scholarships for academically talented low-income students and to study and implement a program of activities that support their recruitment, retention, and graduation in STEM.” To learn more, visit the NSF S-STEM website.


About SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly)
SUNY Poly is New York’s globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem. SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience and nanoengineering, as well as cutting-edge nanobioscience programs at its Albany campus, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and the engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, including natural sciences, game design, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences at its Utica campus; thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience. As the world’s most advanced, university-driven research enterprise, SUNY Poly boasts billions of dollars in high-tech investments and hundreds of corporate partners since its inception. For information visit