A SCC Press Release:
Somerset Community College (SCC) was recently awarded the prestigious EPIIC (Enabling Partnerships and Increasing Innovation Capacity) grant from the National Science Foundation. This unique NSF grant opportunity is exclusively available to partnerships between universities and colleges that have not traditionally prioritized research. A collaborative partnership was formed between Somerset Community College, Rose State College in Oklahoma, and Benedict College in South Carolina. This partnership was selected as one of the inaugural EPIIC winners, and the awarded amount of $1.2 million will be divided equally between the three institutions over a three year period.
SCC President Dr. Carey Castle is looking ahead to how this will impact SCC and the regions in Kentucky the college serves.
“Just as the United States is being urged to innovate, develop and implement new ideas and methodologies into local state-side research, this grant will help SCC be a part of that. Alongside those involved most with industry, educational research and the government, SCC will work to make positive change happen,” Dr. Castle said.
The goal of NSF’s EPIIC program is to enable specific Institutions of Higher Education, whose efforts historically are not focused on research, to more actively engage with external partners, grant funding, and other educational stakeholders. The key components of SCC’s and its partners’ NSF EPIIC grant include expanding research, growing partnerships, enabling workforce development, cultivating diversity and inclusion, and encouraging community engagement. Somerset Community College’s successful application with its partners demonstrates their dedication to enhancing STEM education, partnerships, research, and innovation.
“The selection of SCC by NSF to be a part of the EPIIC grant cannot be overstated,” Dr Castle shared with enthusiasm. “I see tremendous value to SCC and the region with our participation in this program.”
Elaine Kohrman, who serves as the Principal Investigator for SCC’s EPIIC project, expressed her excitement upon learning about the grant award, stating, “The NSF’s EPIIC grant will empower SCC to engage in extensive partnerships with the local economic network, including universities, businesses, and economic development agencies. This collaboration will enable us to introduce research and innovation to our faculty, students, and community.”
Eric Wooldridge, Co-Investigator on the initiative, is enthusiastic about how EPIIC will enhance SCC’s research and development initiatives and generate fresh prospects for student researchers. “This undertaking signifies a significant shift in mindset, not only for the National Science Foundation but also for community colleges at large. It underscores the fact that the economic prosperity that our states are earnestly pursuing should no longer be solely reliant on research universities, but should also involve community colleges, particularly those in rural areas. Institutions like SCC are now being entrusted with the responsibility of bringing together science, technology, students, and local innovators to address genuine challenges through research and engineering and to also foster the establishment of new products and companies, which serve as fundamental building blocks for economic growth.”
Somerset Community College and its EPIIC partners will begin implementing the initiatives outlined in the NSF EPIIC grant in the coming months, with the aim of strengthening its position as a hub for STEM excellence and innovation.
“SCC is just on the precipice of this great opportunity,” Dr Castle said. “I look forward to seeing Eric, Elaine and our partners develop the next great innovation. I congratulate those who made this opportunity become a reality for SCC and our region.”