By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
Clad in bright purple and strolling about campus in noisy groups, high school visitors are a familiar sight at Grand Canyon University. But the prospective Lopes visiting this week represent a new twist on a great idea: The students are attending an expanded VIP Discover event focusing on engineering, computer science and information technology.
“This is an invitation-only event for students who have expressed an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics),” said Amanda Hughens, GCU’s K-12 STEM outreach manager.
Throughout the year, the University rolls out the purple carpet for high school juniors and seniors who spend a night on campus as part of Discover GCU, a program that gives an inside glimpse at the University's programs and campus amenities. More than 2,000 such students have visited so far in 2015-16, said Tara Scibona, marketing event manager.
The estimated 200 students arriving this week will be treated to the same high-quality hospitality, but their experience will be tweaked to appeal to their interest in STEM curriculum, and they will spend two nights on campus instead of one.
The new program exemplifies one of GCU President Brian Mueller’s primary goals — to develop top-notch STEM programs and attract students who will excel in these subjects.
“Brian Mueller wanted to showcase the STEM program, and we decided to focus on that and do a STEM-specific event,” Scibona said.
Dr. Michael Sheller, associate dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET), and Assistant Dean Dr. Heather Gollnow Monthie will be among professors introducing GCU’s mechanical, electrical, bioengineering, computer science, IT and other programs.
Students from the ESports, Engineering and Innovative Computer clubs will lead breakout sessions about the clubs, providing substantiation of the success of GCU’s programs, Scibona said.
Other agenda highlights include a Major League Gaming Tournament: League of Legends overnight on Friday in GCU Arena and the men’s basketball game scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday, also in the Arena.
The growth in STEM careers is outpacing all other fields in the workforce, and GCU plans to increase the percentage of students studying these subjects to 70 percent of the student body by 2020.
“We want to develop a local workforce so that businesses are able to move here … and to improve the economic landscape of the entire area,” Hughens said.
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or [email protected].