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The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering has been named a member of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program Consortium. The consortium, a group of institutions led by Georgia Tech, has been awarded a $5 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to drive systemic reform of STEM education.

The VIP Program unites large teams of undergraduates with graduate students and faculty to work together on long-term research projects. Under the co-leadership of Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan, the Helmsley award will expand the VIP Consortium to include UH Mānoa.

At UH Mānoa, the VIP Program consists of research teams that are vertically integrated and include a faculty mentor, graduate student researchers and undergraduates from sophomores to seniors. The teams are large (10 to 20 undergraduates each semester), the projects are long-term and are based on an externally funded research topic. Undergraduates in VIP teams earn academic credit for their participation.

“We are excited that the UH Mānoa College of Engineering is involved in this effort,” said UH Mānoa VIP Program Director Aaron Ohta. “We propose to transform the ‘typical’ undergraduate STEM experience into one that emphasizes learning through hands-on projects, giving our graduates significant advantages when entering the workforce.”

“The Helmsley Charitable Trust is thrilled to support the VIP Consortium’s transformative approach to active learning in engineering,” said Ryan Kelsey, program officer at the Trust. “It is very compelling to see such a range of engineering schools across the country that are ready to adopt large-scale, effective practices that we expect will retain more students, particularly more women and students of color.”

For the full story, read the College of Engineering news release.