The Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) has received a $552,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a new scholarship program for as many as 12 Los Angeles students.

The Descartes Scholars Program is slated to begin in fall 2010 and will provide four-year, need-based scholarships of $10,000 per year to the 12 students selected.

“The NSF Descartes Scholarship will bring to LMU 12 very talented students who probably would not have been able to afford a high-quality college education,” says Herbert Medina, director of the program. “The National Science Foundation is indeed cultivating untapped math, science, engineering and technology talent through its funding of these scholarships.”

Medina, a professor of mathematics and the principal investigator for this grant, will lead a team that includes LMU faculty members Jose A. Saez and S.W. Tina Choe, and Barbara A. Christie, director for student success, and Catherine Graham, director of financial aid.

One of the project’s objectives is to ensure that the 12 Descartes Scholars earn bachelor’s degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, which have lower percentages of professionals from minority backgrounds.

The Descartes Scholars, in addition to experiencing professional and educational enrichment opportunities throughout their four years, will also be able to take advantage of study abroad programs and one-on-one internships, according to the college.

“This project is completely in line with LMU’s mission. These 12 students will be high-impact students who could end up significantly enhancing LMU’s College of Science and Engineering,” says Medina.

“They also may contribute significantly to America’s science and engineering workforce through their own work and the work they inspire in the people who they eventually mentor and inspire.”