The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, was awarded a $6 million grant through the passage of House Bill 278. The program is using that money to offer eight additional Middle School Academies.
ANSEP works with the University of Alaska system to effect systemic change in the hiring patterns of Alaska Natives in science and engineering by placing students on a career path to leadership. This starts by placing students beginning in sixth grade through high school in science and engineering undergraduate degree programs.
House Bill 278 provides money to schools and certain educational organizations to enhance school performance. The $6 million awarded to ANSEP will be distributed in increments of $2 million per year, starting this year.
ANSEP chief operations officer Michael Bourdukofsky says that money was part of Governor Parnell’s education platform.
“The funding is geared to expand the ANSEP Middle School Academy so that we can increase our capacity to 12 Middle School Academies throughout the year which will bring in 650 new middle school students every year into ANSEP.”
The Middle School Academies are residential science, technology, engineering and math experiences designed to immerse middle school students in the career opportunities that exist in these areas. Bourdukofsky says these are not intended to replace but rather enhance the schools and education selected ANSEP students are receiving.
The new grant will help the group create more Middle School Academies and make the programs more accessible.
“So it goes for all of the room and board, all of the costs for materials for activities, it will of course help pay for some of the staffing needs and requirements to keep these up and running. So it basically takes up all of the costs associated with the academy so we can offer these programs free of charge to students all across Alaska."
Alaska Airlines recently announced a donation of $1 million in air travel to ANSEP for students in the program. Bourdukofsky says with the grant and the airline donation the group has the ability to get the best and the brightest students on a path to higher education in the sciences in Alaska.