ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Valley State University is partnering with a historically Black college in Georgia in hopes of diversifying the STEM force in West Michigan.

“The more diverse we are the better we are in regard to our perspectives, in regard to being more culturally competent,” said B. Donta Truss, the vice president for enrollment development and educational outreach at GVSU. “Ultimately, the program again is designed to help us increase the number of learners in our STEM pipeline.”

Truss says the program creates a pathway for Fort Valley State University students to earn a bachelor’s degree combined with a master’s degree in engineering or computer science at GVSU in 5 years.

“We draw dominantly from Michigan. Our student population is not as diverse as we would like, which means that our graduates are not as diverse as we would like,” said Paul Plotkowski, the dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at GVSU.

Plotkowski says he believes this new program will fill a much-needed gap. 

“In trying to create opportunities for students and support our employers, a program like this just makes sense,” said Plotkowski.

“When you bring diverse perspectives to the table, it enhances everything. Bottom line, the product, the services, awareness, and all of that pieces will contribute to us being even stronger here in West Michigan,” said Truss.

The program begins at FVSU and finds diverse students as early as middle school. They’re then trained all the way until they receive their master’s degree from Grand Valley State University.