Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand, Tonko Announce Major Grant For Siena College

Jul 29, 2014

LOUDONVILLE – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Paul Tonko today announced that Siena College will receive funding in the amount of $687,876 to support the Siena Plan for Attracting and Retaining Computer Scientists (SPARCS). The grant, awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), will boost local science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and continue the tradition of innovation and excellence in Capital Region communities.

“As Upstate New York’s economy switches gears towards the advanced industries of the 21st century, we need our students and education system to keep pace,” said Senator Schumer. “It is critical that young adults across the Capital Region are college- and career-ready to meet the demands of today’s specialized STEM industries like manufacturing, biotechnology and nanotech, all of which are burgeoning throughout Upstate New York. This grant will help Siena College continue its tradition of high-caliber research and innovation by allowing the college to better attract and retain computer scientists. This program will help provide more tools and resources for students and recent graduates in their pursuit of good-paying STEM jobs, and I will continue doing everything I can to help New York students prepare for the future.”

“New York is home to some of the greatest colleges and universities, a world-class workforce and innovative career opportunities,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Investing in STEM education and training programs like SPARCS at Siena College will help America compete in the 21st century global economy. These programs allow students to get the education they need for the careers of the future.”

“STEM education helps all students understand the world around us,” said Congressman Tonko. “Almost eighty percent of the fastest growing and well-paying jobs in the nation depend upon an education rooted in the understanding of science and math. By 2018, we will need more than one million STEM educated professionals just to stay ahead in the global economy. I applaud the hard work done by Dr. Fryling and her team at Siena to help us meet that goal and I look forward to seeing this program succeed in our own backyard. In Congress, I remain a fervent supporter of educational initiatives that position the next generation for success, and I thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their tireless work in this area in the United States Senate.”

“We are excited and thankful for the opportunity to implement SPARCS.  Unlike other STEM fields, many college freshmen have not had the opportunity to learn about the computer science (CS) discipline in their high school curricula.  Women and minorities are at a particular disadvantage because they are significantly underrepresented in the CS major.  The SPARCS program will improve recruitment, in part, by bringing CS education into local high schools and preparing high school faculty to teach it, thereby increasing the pipeline of students interested in CS as they enter college. A special thanks to NSF, including the program directors and anonymous reviewers, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Tonko for their support,” said Dr. Meg Fryling, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Information Systems at Siena College and Principal Investigator of the NSF grant.

Science and innovation are key components of a strong American economy and increasing opportunity for our future leaders. In 2012, President Obama set a goal to increase the number of formally educated STEM students by one million over the next decade. As the amount of STEM occupations in demand continues to rise, the long-term health of the nation’s economy depends on programs like SPARCS to fill the skills gap.

SPARCS focuses on recruiting and retaining computing majors in high school and the first two years of college. The program includes a high school dual enrollment program that introduces computer science education to Capital District high schools that are currently not offering it.