Aiken, SC (05/25/2023) — The University of South Carolina Aiken ("USC Aiken") has received $830,000 in Congressionally Directed Community Project Funds ("CDCPF") for the purchase of equipment and technology to support growth of STEM and communication programs, and external partnerships with the Departments of Energy and Defense.
The funds, which were secured with the help of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), will be used to purchase engineering equipment; augmented reality, virtual reality and cybersecurity equipment; and analytics and media technology.
"We're grateful to Sen. Graham for his efforts and advocacy on behalf of the University of South Carolina Aiken and communities across our state," said USC Aiken Chancellor Dan Heimmermann. "These dollars will enhance South Carolina's competitiveness in STEM fields by providing the necessary equipment and professional experiences to make students workforce ready upon graduation."
"I believe it is important that elected officials have a say in how taxpayer money is spent and not rely on bureaucrats in Washington to protect South Carolina's interests. This funding for University of South Carolina Aiken helps to advance their STEM program and continues to build a robust and highly skilled workforce," said Sen. Graham.
Growth of the university's STEM infrastructure is necessitated by construction of the Department of Energy's new $65 million Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative on the USC Aiken campus, along with planned $35 million cybersecurity and readiness facilities in partnership with the South Carolina National Guard - priorities requiring an investment in facilities and in educating the future workforce.
"The university is dedicating new faculty lines and some existing spaces in support," said USC Aiken Provost Daren Timmons. "Industry partners have provided much of the existing equipment, but additional equipment is required in order to continue to improve our STEM infrastructure and meet the education and training needs of our students."
The monies will be used to purchase equipment and technology to outfit a new engineering laboratory in the AMC and existing laboratories at USC Aiken; a new makerspace / machine shop in support of the mechanical engineering degree program; and a newly established media learning and research lab.
The funds also will be used to support increased student enrollment and expanded professional experiences for students enrolled in programs including engineering; applied computer science; cybersecurity; game and simulation development; and communication and emerging media.
"A well-educated workforce with the technology and cognitive skills to meet the needs of 21st century employers is essential to the future of South Carolina," Timmons said. "This investment will fill a significant equipment need, allowing USC Aiken students to complete their degrees containing significant professional experiences."
Enhanced tools and technologies help deepen student learning through practical, hands-on instruction and ensure students have competitive and employable skills, Timmons said.
The projects are expected to become operational between 2024-2026.