Tuesday, August 9, 2022
  Around Campus, Community

By Amanda A. Taylor-Uchoa

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – UTRGV has been awarded a $1,199,998 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish the Center for Equity in Engineering: Engage, Educate, Enrich (CEE-E3).  

The new center is designed to broaden participation in engineering studies and bolster early engagement in engineering for middle to high school students.  

“I am thrilled, honored and appreciative to have a part in the creation of the Center for Equity in Engineering,” said Dr. Ala Qubbaj, dean of the UTRGV College of Engineering and Computer Science and principal investigator (PI) on the project.  

The center is set to open on Oct. 1, 2022 and will be housed within the UTRGV College of Engineering and Computer Science building on the Edinburg Campus.  

One of the center’s main goals is to support UTRGV engineering students through connections and programs that increase engagement, retention and overall success in engineering. In addition, the center will help increase placement rates in the engineering workforce and graduate programs.  

Qubbaj said CEE-E3 will be among the first in the country to be awarded funding from the NSF to address the inequities that hinder the participation of Hispanics in the engineering workforce.  

“This center is also important at the national level, evidenced by the NSF’s funding, as Hispanics represent one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States, yet one of the least represented in engineering,” he said. “Increasing the participation of Hispanics in engineering serves the national interest of strengthening America’s STEM workforce and global competitiveness.” 

Dr. Alyssa Cavazos, director of the UTRGV Center for Teaching Excellence and senior personnel on the project, said she is thrilled to be a part of the creation of the new center, which will focus on student voices, knowledge and experiences, and will create learning spaces where all students can succeed.  

“The work of the center at a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) like UTRGV is critical to creating multiple pathways for underrepresented minority students to be successful in engineering fields where many continue to face challenges and barriers to their success,” she said.

“It is exciting that UTRGV is set to become a national model for diversity, inclusion and professional preparation of underrepresented minority students in engineering.”  


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.