Texas State, Tokyo Electron team for engineering scholarship initiative

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
September 4, 2013

Tokyo Electron has partnered with Texas State University to launch of the new SPARK initiative, an effort to spark and sustain early interest shown by academically talented students from diverse backgrounds.

SPARK, funded by the National Science Foundation, is a scholarship and academic enrichment program designed to inspire, support and empower undergraduates majoring in engineering, technology, computer science and mathematics, who have demonstrated financial need.

For more than a decade, Tokyo Electron has partnered with Texas State College of Science and Engineering to expand opportunities for students in the Central Texas area.

In 2012, Texas State received a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant to help fund SPARK, a proposal initially put forth by Clara Novoa, Ingram School of Engineering; Susan Romanella, College of Science and Engineering; Anne Ngu, Department of Computer Science; and Reiko Graham, Department of Psychology. The SPARK group is comprised of 18 first-year students (14 female and four male) who receive $10,000 scholarships for up to three years. They live, learn and interact in a shared residential setting that integrates community building, mentoring and academic enrichment. Tokyo Electron provided experienced industry professionals as mentors for a SPARK kick-off event. The company also facilitated a focus group with the SPARK students, discussing barriers to completing degrees in engineering, technology, computer science and mathematics. Tokyo Electron will continue to be a key corporate leader in the SPARK program at Texas State, providing internships, job shadowing, plant tours and mentoring.

"Participating in Texas State's SPARK initiative is a natural extension of our ongoing engagement with the university," said Kevin Chasey, senior vice president, Field Solutions for Tokyo Electron America, Inc. "Tokyo Electron strives to sustain a culture of commitment to corporate social responsibility, giving back to the communities in which we live and work in the areas of environmental sustainability, arts and culture, health and human services, and education. Participating in SPARK will allow our employees to become engaged with students who share common goals and interests, while furthering our corporate mission to improve math and science education."

By establishing a community of strong role models and peers, SPARK will contribute to a solid foundation for career preparedness at local, state and national levels, as well as helping to dismantle gender stereotypes and sociocultural attitudes.