California State University, Northridge has received a five-year, $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase underrepresented and low-income students in engineering, science and math.

The grant came from the department’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Program. Its goal is to help students transfer from area community colleges and then graduate from CSUN with degrees in engineering or computer science.

“As we look to the future, we can think of no greater investment than the education of our future engineers and computer scientists,” said S.K. Ramesh, dean of Northridge’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, in a prepared statement. Ramesh will oversee the grant program.

He added: “This grant will have an enduring impact on the academic success and career choices of the talented youth in our region and, ultimately, we hope an enduring impact on the growth and health of California’s economy.”

Under the provisions of the grant, faculty and staff in CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science will work closely with their counterparts at Glendale Community College and the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita to help identify potential students for the program. In addition, they will provide those students with the support they need to successfully transfer to Cal State Northridge and then graduate from the university.

University officials envision the program graduating a total of 120 students during the five-year duration of the grant.

Those students would receive proactive advisement and tracking, organized tutoring, peer and faculty mentoring, hands-on research opportunities and project-based learning. They would get career advisement and other assistance to move on into the workforce or to graduate school. The students would also receive stipends to help ease the costs of their education.

Ramesh said one of the unique aspects of the grant is that it allows faculty from the three institutions — CSUN, College of the Canyons and Glendale Community College — to collaborate on curriculum development using interactive technologies.

“This is expected to lead to seamless transfer agreements and enable students to graduate in a timely manner,” he said.

Ramesh said the university hopes to be a role model for other universities nationwide.

“When we look at the emerging workforce needs in industry, and the demographics of that workforce, it’s very important that the workforce reflects what our population looks like,” he said.