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DOE gives universities $25 million to foster ‘diversity’ in STEM fields

‘More of the same progressive nonsense,’ researcher responds

The Department of Energy just awarded almost $25 million in grants to universities for the purpose of fostering a “sustainable and diverse” workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields.

While the department said the grants will “lead to future career pathways” for underrepresented groups, one scholar described the project as a “misguided” waste of money.

The DOE grants entail about $24.8 million to seven universities, with purposes varying from the promotion of “experimental learning and recruitment of environmental science and engineering students” to the development of “a geospatial-artificial intelligence enhanced curriculum” for minority-serving institutions (MSIs), a department news release states.

The grants form part of the Office of Environmental Management’s Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program, which was designed to enable “aggressive” recruiting of candidates from minority-serving institutions.

When contacted for comment about the grants, the department referred The College Fix to its March news release.

“The awards will focus on enhancing MSI programs to help foster a sustainable and diverse EM science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce pipeline,” the release states. “The awards will also aid in promoting the development of a nationally engaged scientific and engineering workforce that will lead to future career pathways in the EM complex for underrepresented groups.”

However, not all scholars see the program in a positive light.

Linnea Lueken, a climate and environmental research fellow at the Heartland Institute, told The Fix in a recent email, “The DOE giving grant money to improve DEI in STEM is just more of the same progressive nonsense that perpetuates the issues they claim to solve.”

Lueken, an engineer, said DEI programs make no sense in science and engineering where the only preference should be for “whoever is best at the work, or best or most passionate at their studies, regardless of skin color or sex.”

Rather than providing solutions, she said such programs simply “aggravate” the problem.

Lueken told The Fix the MSIPP and other programs like it are a “waste of money” and funding could be better spent addressing critical energy infrastructure issues rather than “virtue signaling.”

Specifically, she pointed to the need to address the stability of the power supply and fix blackouts and brownouts, and suggested the DOE should spend its money on installing more stable and reliable energy sources and updating the aging energy grid.

The recipients of the three-year grants were University of California at Merced, University of California at Berkeley, Florida A&M University, Rutgers University at Newark, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, New Mexico State University, and Texas State University, according to the office.

The office received a significant budget increase for its Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program in 2022, going from $6 million in 2021 to $56 million, according to a department news release. The program received the same amount in 2023 and 2024, according to an office budget report.

Office Senior Advisor William “Ike” White praised the MSIPP in a 2022 statement. White said the effort will help “produce the next great generation of scientists by increasing interest in and access to STEM education at all levels and for those who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM education and careers.”

MORE: Biden STEM immigration proposal could hurt college grads, expert warns

IMAGE: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock, Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Mary Mobley is a student at The Master's University majoring in political studies with an emphasis in constitutional law.