Governor Abbott, TWC Award Almost $1.3 Million In Governor’s Summer Merit Program

July 7, 2022 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today awarded 17 grants totaling nearly $1.3 million that will be distributed through the Governor's Summer Merit Program to Texas universities and community colleges for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) summer youth camps. Awarded by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), these funds will provide scholarships for 2,231 students ages 14 to 21 to attend the STEM camps to prepare them for future high-skill, high-demand jobs.

The Governor's Summer Merit Program introduces Texas young people to one or more of Texas' six focus industry clusters: advanced technologies and manufacturing, aerospace and defense, biotechnology and life sciences, information and computer technology, petroleum refining and chemical products, and energy. Texas is projected to add more than 300,000 STEM occupations through 2028, according to data projections by the TWC Labor Market Information Department. Several camps are designed to encourage young women and minorities to pursue further education and careers in STEM. 

"Texas is a global leader in science and technology, and we will continue offering the best opportunities for young Texans to become engaged in STEM,” said Governor Abbott. “Developing a highly skilled, diverse workforce for tomorrow would not be possible without investing in Texas’ most valuable asset—students in our classrooms today. Through the Governor’s Summer Merit Program, our universities and community colleges will provide life-changing educational experiences for the next generation of engineers, mathematicians, software developers, and more in the Lone Star State.”

“Each of Texas’ 182,000 STEM job openings represent a valuable opportunity for a Texan to connect to a lifetime of success,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel.  “Youth initiatives supported by TWC, including the Governor’s Summer Merit Program, help Texas’ future workforce learn about these exciting opportunities and create a talent pipeline for Texas industry.”

"The Governor's Summer Merit Program takes what would normally be a $700 camp for a student and offers it for free. This is how we find our next programmers, scientists, and engineers," said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. "From game programming to drones and artificial intelligence, these camps focus on the future."

“Texas is home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other state, and those Texas employers want a talented workforce that is flexible, well-rounded, and ready to innovate,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson. “When I talk to employers, they express their interest in finding more skilled employees. A STEM education is a valuable tool and a starting point to helping train the workforce these employers need.”

The 17 Summer Merit Program grant recipients are:

  • Lone Star College – Tomball, $55,723 – the college provides 80 students with experience in computer coding, robotics, electronics, and programming skills; designing, building, and programing a robotic creature; and programming languages used in the real world (e.g., PBASIC programming).
  • Southern Methodist University, $99,226 – the university hosts 200 students for camps based on the NASA Perseverance Mission to Mars. Each cohort will separate into four teams of students: Drone Team, Rover Team, Rocket Team, and Landing Team. Each team will work with industry mentors to prepare for a simulated remote mission to Mars.
  • University of Texas at Austin, $100,000 – UT Austin hosts 326 students with multiple camps, including the UT Computer Science Academy for Women. The GeoFORCE Texas program takes students on spectacular geologic field trips. My Introduction to Engineering (MITE) participants discover engineering through hands-on team projects. Women Engineers at The University of Texas (WEatUT) camp provides the opportunity to explore engineering through hands-on projects.
  • Collin County Community College, $60,382 – the college engages 120 students with hands-on learning to familiarize them with the myriad of STEM post-secondary and career opportunities in North Texas.
  • St. Mary's University, $84,489 – the university teaches 144 students easy-to-use popular software tools, applications, and programming languages, including Visual Studio, Lego MindStorm EV3 (C-based), Python IDLE, GameMaker, and ProModel.
  • University of Houston – Clear Lake, $51,210 – The STEM in Action with Robots and Game Design Academy provides 75 students from Brazoria, Harris, and Galveston counties experiences in robotics and game design.
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, $100,000 – the program hosts 150 students for camps in biology, chemistry, anatomy & physiology, biotechnology, and physics.
  • North Central Texas College, $56,000 – the college provides 80 students with DARTH in 3D (Design & Render Tiny Homes) hands-on experience, creating scaled-down tiny homes using engineering design and architectural process. The prototype will be transformed into a scaled model using a 3D printer.
  • Palo Alto College, $83,206 – the college hosts 120 students to code using AutoAuto, Finch Robots 2.0 with micro:bits, Cubit, and other technologies to increase computer science and manufacturing engineering awareness and build coding confidence and skills in robotics programming.
  • University of North Texas, $100,000 – 144 students will use creativity as a driver for engagement in Computer Science Career Prep Camp, Computer Science Fashion Camp with e-textiles, and Creative Coding and Leadership Camp.
  • Stephen F. Austin State University, $100,000 – the university hosts 140 students for project-based, hands-on learning activities. The camps will include fieldwork opportunities, industry-specific field trips, and STEM career-oriented events and activities.
  • San Jacinto Community College District, $73,226 – the program offers 150 students at the camp to focus on mathematics and science related to engineering and STEM careers. It will feature relevant industry speakers, particularly during a STEM immersive day, plus a full-day field trip to Space Center Houston.
  • Texas A&M University, $74,408 – the university provides 110 students classroom instruction, hands-on experiences, and industry-relevant field trips. All camps include programming covering STEM concepts.
  • Texas Woman's University, $36,400 – the university hosts 52 students between two camps: CyberCamp and STEMM Camp. CyberCamp educates students on cyber ethics and network security, culminating in a mock Cyber Defense competition. STEMM Camp is a new summer program where students explore basic and medical science through hands-on, inquiry-based laboratory activities and engaging real-world case studies.
  • Brazosport College, $62,577 – the college hosts 90 students to participate in engaging, interactive STEM programming that will allow them to apply prior knowledge and skills while introducing new curricula.
  • Austin Community College District, $54,177 – the program teaches 100 rising first-year high school students the latest technology in the health sciences, manufacturing and information fields. The participants will become aware of emerging trends and hear about what it takes to complete a degree for a specific career.
  • Houston Community College, $99,038 – the college provides 150 students with drone-building, virtual reality sessions, and Apple Swift Coding. The STEM curriculum will reflect employer-informed skills leading to high-demand career pathways.