Duke Energy continues support of Clemson summer programs promoting workforce diversity
CLEMSON — The Duke Energy Foundation is providing $85,000 to Clemson University to continue support of two separate summer programs that are aimed at increasing diversity in the pipeline that carries talent from academia to the workplace.
Project WISE offers hands-on mini courses designed to develop middle school girls’ knowledge in STEM fields. The foundation expanded the grant last year to specifically target and recruit girls from the Pee Dee region to attend, and that effort continued this year.
Sixty girls are enrolled in Project WISE. The Duke Energy Foundation has supported the program since 1997 and some of its alumni have gone on to become Clemson students.
PEER/WISE Summer Experiences seeks to increase the number of minority and female students who pursue both higher education and careers in STEM fields. Incoming Clemson freshmen who participate in the three-week PEER/WISE Summer Experiences will earn two hours of college course credit through both online and in-person educational opportunities, and will be provided with hands-on STEM learning and research experiences.
The program seeks to help students understand the difference between the academic demands of high school and college, and introduce them to the academically intensive STEM college experience through instruction and study skills development in mathematics and engineering from Clemson faculty.
Duke Energy has helped fund this program for the past 21 years, along with Clemson’s Emerging Scholars program and the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.
Officials cheered another year of collaboration.
“Programs like these are crucial to giving young people the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century as well as create a diverse workforce,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s South Carolina state president. “Our ongoing partnership with Clemson University helps produce skilled workers, grow communities and bring them new ideas.”
Both camps are organized by PEER & WISE, a program in the university’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences that supports groups underrepresented in engineering and science.
Serita Acker, the director of PEER & WISE, said she is grateful for the foundation’s continued support.
“Duke Energy’s contributions and visionary thinking are helping us transform lives and keep the pipeline filled with diverse talent,” she said. “We are deeply appreciative for their support of Project WISE and PEER/WISE Summer Experiences.”
Also thanking Duke Energy was Lee Gill, chief diversity officer and special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence at Clemson.
“Duke Energy is having a positive impact on diversity in the STEM pipeline with its contributions to the PEER & WISE summer programs,” he said. “The company’s inspiring generosity is providing opportunities to students that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Brad Putman, associate dean of undergraduate studies in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, said Duke Energy’s help is deeply valued.
“Duke Energy’s continued support of these two crucial summer programs is helping prepare students with the skills and experiences that will help them succeed in their education and future careers as leaders in STEM fields,” he said. “Working together, Duke Energy and Clemson University are creating a better South Carolina.”