Tag Archives: Dr. Lin Li

TSU’s College of Engineering receives $2.25 million grant for incoming first year students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Engineering is committed to fostering a community of budding first year engineer students and has received a monetary boost to continue this endeavor. This year the college has been awarded a $2.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will go into effect fall 2023.

Elijah Rachell, left, mechanical and manufacturing engineering undergraduate student, Christopher Buford, center, Master Graduate student in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and Akiya Harris, a Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering senior during a summer camp.

The grant will create a five-year pilot engineering curriculum that includes a pre-engineering program and an immersive engineering studio based on course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), aiming to focus on student retention and graduation at Tennessee State University.

TSU alumnus Malik City, who earned his engineering degree from the university in 2020, says that the rigorous TSU program played a pivotal role in his current success within his company.

City, is a software development engineer for Amazon.

“When I look back, I don’t have any regrets. I have been fortunate to be in this field that has changed the lives of myself and my family,” City said.

“The same courses that may discourage first year students are the same courses that many successful engineers had challenges with. The first year student grant is huge because the extra support is needed.”

A STEM Enhancement Institute will also be established this fall as part of the grant to provide support to students who struggle with their STEM courses in their pre-engineering program. $150,000 per year will go towards the STEM institute.

TSU alumnus Malik City

College of Engineering Interim Dean, Professor Lin Li, who is the principal investigator of the grant, said the grant will support more than 80 students a year. “For year one students, we want to prepare them with stronger math and physics,” Li said. “So we proposed a pre-engineering program. This way, we help the students so they can move on to their second year for their engineering career.”

The overall goal is to enhance the retention and success of students in engineering programs at TSU through innovative practices and interdisciplinary research.

College of Engineering Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies Catherine Armwood-Gordon, Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Charles McCurry, and Dean of the College of Life and Physical Sciences Nolan McMurray are co-principal investigators for the grant.

A group of graduate and undergraduate engineering students working together during a 2023 summer camp.

Armwood-Gordon echoed the efforts of the grant in helping the university better understand the needs of freshmen engineering students. “It allows us to better understand what our retention rates are for the incoming freshmen that are not taking calculus one, to getting them through calculus one and retaining them to graduation.”

Dean McMurray emphasized that the program’s significant grant will propel the university to the forefront of HBCU engineering programs.

“This award will go a long way in preparing our students at TSU to become stronger engineering students,” he said.

This is the third time the National Science foundation has provided the Implementation Project grant: Enhancement of CUREs-based Curriculum and Immersive Engineering Studio to Enhance Engineering Education and Retention of Underrepresented Engineers, to the university.

According to Li, the first two previous awarded grants were approximately $1 million each. He also noted that the college of engineering is grateful for the additional funds this year as the project aims to create a pipeline of trained undergraduate students with various engineering analysis and design skills.

To learn more about TSU’s engineering programs, visit www.tnstate.edu/engineering/ .

TSU’s aviation program breaking barriers to increase number of black commercial, Air Force Pilots

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Mateo Lannaman’s dream was to be a pilot and fly high across the sky. With lack of funding and without a clear path, he didn’t know where to turn, until he met a mentor in flight training at Rising Aviation who gave him an advice that would change the young man’s life forever. 

Mateo Lannaman, second from left, a first-time freshman from Dallas, Texas, will major in aviation management to fulfill a dream of becoming an airline pilot. Pictured are l-r: Dr. William Smith, Assistant Director of Admissions; Mateo, his sister Milan, mother Senia, and dad Derrick Lannaman. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“He told me about Tennessee State University and the outstanding aviation program there,” Lannaman said. “He said there were scholarships for qualified students who were interested.” Lannaman took his mentor’s advice and applied. He was accepted with a full scholarship to study aviation management as a concentration in the Department of Applied and Industrial Technologies in the College of Engineering. The program is certified to train commercial pilots.  

“I am really impressed so far from what I have seen and the family atmosphere,” said the Rock Hill High School graduate, after meeting the dean and few staff of the College of Engineering during a campus tour Thursday with his family. 

Dr. Lin Li, Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, says the aviation management program is a pipeline to grow the number of minorities in the industry. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

With the low number of black commercial and Air Force pilots in the nation, Lannaman comes into an aviation program that is seeing tremendous growth thanks to a vigorous recruitment effort, outstanding faculty, and a long partnership with the Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) detachment at the university.  

“We have a long relationship with the AFROTC through many programs that are benefiting the College of Engineering and our aviation and aeronautics programs,” said Dr. Lin Li, interim dean of the college. He said the goal of the aviation program is to help increase the number of pilots in the country, especially African Americans. Currently, only about 2.6 percent commercial pilots are African Americans, while only about 6 percent African Americans are in aviation management positions. The number is even more dismal for the U.S. Air Force, where less than 2 percent of pilots are African Americans.  

Lt. Col. Michael Wilson, right, of AFROTC Detachment 790 at TSU, greets Cadet Jaiden Walker, a sophomore political science major, who wants to be an officer in the Air Force. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“The purpose of our aviation management program is really to create a pipeline to grow the number of minorities in the industry,” Li said. Through their collaboration, Li said the college and AFROTC have stepped up their effort in recruitment by talking to area high school juniors and seniors. Some initiatives include dual enrollment programs that offer college credit.  There is also a 2+2 program with Motlow State Community College, where students majoring in applied and industrial technology taught by TSU professors, can transfer to the university at the end of their two years and complete their four-year degree at TSU. An aviation summer camp for 20 high school students is also planned for 2023, Li said. Participants will receive 45 hours, including flying hours, using simulators and lecture hours.   

“We hope this will get students interested in gaining firsthand experience in becoming a pilot,” Li added.  

Lt. Col. Michael Wilson is an assistant professor of aerospace studies with AFROTC Detachment 790 at TSU. He said the partnership with the College of Engineering is reaping mutual benefits by attracting the best engineering students to the Air Force as well as working with the college to enhance its aviation program.  

“We are working with the College of Engineering, and they are doing a phenomenal job at developing the aviation program,” Wilson said. “The Air Force is inherently in the air. And we develop aviators, and we develop pilots, and we develop training. They have the skill set necessary in the engineering world. So, we help each other in that regard.” Wilson said in addition to recruitment initiatives, the college is receptive to the creation of a living learning community on campus, where engineering students that are in the AFROTC will have a block of rooms to live and learn together. 

“This way they hold each other accountable for their studies, make sure they get up in the morning to come do PT, and be where they need to be for all of their classes or all of their studies,” he said.  

Currently, eight TSU students are part of a cohort of 65 recruits from institutions across Middle Tennessee who are part of the AFROTC detachment at TSU. Cadet Jaiden Walker, a sophomore political science major, is one of them. The Selma, Alabama, native said his goal is to become an officer in the Air Force. He credits a substitute teacher in the 8th grade with getting him interested in the Air Force.  

“He always talked about his experience (in the Air Force) and things he did,” Walker said. “So, when I went to high school, I joined the JROTC, which gave me the opportunity to receive a scholarship.” He said he had the choice of going to any HBCU, but he chose TSU, where he once visited during a college tour.  

“That was a very memorable tour for me. Everything just seemed to align well, the fit was right, I enjoyed the people,” he added.  

Li said he is working with AFROTC for more scholarships to help interested students defray the cost of the aviation program, as well as developing marketing tools such as billboards, to increase awareness of the program.  

“One of our biggest challenges in the College of Engineering is that we have limited pilot instructors. So, that’s an area where AFROTC can also help because they have the facilities and the resources,” Li said.  

For more information on the TSU Aviation Management program, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/ait/aviationflight.aspx  

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU College of Engineering receives $1 million NSF grant to benefit community college students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Community college students looking for a future in engineering will have a home at Tennessee State University, thanks to a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The TSU College of Engineering received the funding recently to recruit minority transfer students from regional community colleges in Middle Tennessee who are interested in pursuing degrees in engineering, mathematical sciences or computer science.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove

The grant award, “Promoting Recruitment and Retention of Minority Transfer Students in Science and Engineering,” or PROMISE, will provide 45 scholarships over five years to successful candidates who want to pursue their bachelor’s degrees.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, said the grant will also support the transfer students through cohort building activities, undergraduate research experiences, summer internships, graduate school preparation, and participation in regional and national STEM conferences.

“This represents our ongoing efforts of increasing the workforce pool of STEM graduates from TSU, and the needed collaboration of faculty from different colleges to reach this objective,” said Hargrove, who is co-principal investigator of the project.

Dr. Lin Li

Hargrove said funds will be available by January 1, 2021, and that scholarship awards will begin in fall 2020. Applications will be reviewed by the College of Engineering, evaluated on a grade point average of at least 3.0, as well as on discipline and career goals.

Ronald Glenn is an incoming freshman who was part of the TSU pre-college engineering program at Stratford STEM Magnet High School during his freshman, junior and senior years. He said although he is not a transfer student, he hopes many students will take advantage of the scholarship program.

“I enjoyed working with TSU professors during those years,” said Glenn, of Nashville, who is majoring in architectural engineering. “They care very much about bringing out the best in you. They helped me get a head-start on my college work.”

Dr. Lin Li, the project’s principal investigator and chair of the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, said the overall goal of PROMISE is to increase STEM degree completion of low-income, high-achieving undergraduates with demonstrated financial need.

Dr. Nolan McMurray

“We are excited to expand our partnerships with local community colleges, and provide opportunities for these students to pursue and obtain a BS degree in engineering or computer science from TSU,” Li said.

Dr. Nolan McMurray, interim dean of the College of Life and Physical Sciences, collaborated on the project as co-PI with Hargrove and Li.

“The opportunity to collaborate with the College of Engineering to attract more students in mathematics from regional community colleges, also supports our desire to increase our enrollment and graduation in this field,” McMurray said. 

Project investigators said PROMISE’s intended aims are to improve student engagement, boost retention and academic performance, as well as enhance student self-efficacy. 

To learn more about TSU’s College of Engineering, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.