Los Angeles — Cal State L.A.’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology has been awarded a $580,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).  The principal investigator of both grants is Cal State L.A.’s Civil Engineering Professor Mark Tufenkjian.

The ONR grant will help develop a Naval STEM Program within the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology at Cal State L.A. The goal of the program is to provide a pipeline of high quality graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields who will be prepared for civilian jobs in the Navy. The grant will be funded over a three-year period.

The program will expose students from underrepresented communities to naval-related research activities throughout their Cal State L.A. academic career, with the intent to inspire them to pursue careers with the Navy’s Southern California Systems Commands upon graduation.

The DOD grant, also to be disbursed over three years, will help fund a project to strengthen and expand ongoing naval seafloor engineering research efforts at Cal State L.A.  The grant will expose minority students to research projects important to the mission of the Navy and encourage them to consider naval STEM careers.

The “Non-Contact Geophysical Methods to Predict Near-Surface Seafloor Soil Properties” project is a partnership with the Naval Facilities Engineering Expeditionary Warfare Center’s Ocean Facilities Division in Port Hueneme. Cal State L.A. students will primarily conduct research at the Seafloor Research Laboratory in the Department of Civil Engineering.

"We are excited to continue our collaboration with the Office of Naval Research and the Department of Defense to provide STEM education opportunities for our students and expose them to careers in the Navy," said Professor Tufenkjian. “The Naval STEM Program is an idea I have been promoting for a long time. We want to provide students with expanded curricular and research opportunities while providing the Navy’s Southern California Systems Commands access to high quality STEM graduates who are equipped with relevant Naval knowledge and skills acquired during their undergraduate education.”

Tufenkjian, a registered civil engineer in California and chair of the Civil Engineering department, oversees the geotechnical engineering program at Cal State L.A.