LaGuardia Community College Awarded Almost $500k to Enhance Scientific Equipment for STEM Programs

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (May 1, 2023) — Recently, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation awarded LaGuardia Community College/CUNY a grant of $499,369. The four-year grant will enable the college to enhance its technology and equipment to support learning experiences in Natural Sciences (NS) and Mathematics, Engineering Science, and Computer Science (MEC).

The grant proposal was led by Dr. Maria Entezari, chairperson of the Department of Natural Sciences and Dr. Abderrazak Belkharraz, chairperson of the Department of Mathematics, Engineering and Computer Science. Both professors say the grant will boost curricula and equipment enhancements for STEM programs in the NS and MEC departments.

In the Natural Sciences Department, the grant will support the creation of two new tracks within the Environmental Science and Biology programs, Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Biotechnology; New Physical Sciences Program and its two tracks, Chemistry and Physics. The grant will also help provide state of the art labs for Genomics & Bioinformatics, Genetics (Capstone), Sustainable Vegetable Production, Sustainable Urban Agriculture, and Research Methods in Physical Sciences.

In addition, the grant will help establish a greenhouse on a new urban farm to be created behind the college’s C-Building – will be a major fixture of the Sustainable Urban Agriculture degree track at LaGuardia. In addition, the foods grown in the greenhouse would be utilized by the College’s student food pantry.

These enhancements will help implement a “phased integration of the equipment to systematically increase the quality of authentic undergraduate research experiences provided in our programs,” said Dr. Entezari. “We also hope to expand experiential learning opportunities using the new equipment with College Now (high school partnerships) and the CUNY Research Academy; develop new lab modules and train students with current biotechniques using the equipment; and pioneer the research and restoration of lost tidal marsh habitat in our local estuary, Newtown Creek.”

In the MEC Department, support from the grant will go towards the conversion of one of the computer labs into a dedicated networking lab to support more technical and hands-on instruction, including new computers and SMART Boards, and additional hardware such as routers, servers, and switches. The grant will also support the creation of a “Portable lab” with laptops, MacBooks, and tablets available to students and faculty to allow students to take online and hybrid classes while at LaGuardia. These laptops and MacBooks will be exclusively dedicated to web, Android/iPhone, and game development research projects within the MAC172 (Web Development), MAC272 (Advanced Web Development), MAC280 (Game Programming), MAC221 (Application Development for iPhone/iPad) courses.

“We currently schedule more than 40 different computer science courses in three labs. Computers installed in these labs can run basic software required for some of the more general introductory courses. However, we have been struggling to equip these labs with the necessary tools for more advanced and more specialized courses,” said Dr. Belkharraz. “We have an urgent need to convert one of our labs into a dedicated networking lab to support more technical and hands-on instruction. We need to have a ‘portable lab’ with laptops, MacBooks, and tablets available to students and faculty to allow students to take online and hybrid classes while they are at LaGuardia. These machines will also allow our faculty, in particular our adjuncts, to teach online classes from home and from LaGuardia during the same semester.”

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to educate New Yorkers seeking new skills and careers. As an institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of underserved populations. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students while providing them with access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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