Monday, June 13, 2011

TSU Scholarship for Vol State Engineering Student

Kerry Siegrist was so good at math, that in the eighth grade his teacher accused him of cheating because he didn’t write out the problems on his test.  “She sat me down to retake the test in front of my mom and dad to demonstrate my cheating,” he said.  “When I aced the test, she apologized.  I have always been really good at reading numbers and doing multiplication in my head.”
Siegrist is an electrical engineering major and Vol State graduate. He recently was awarded a scholarship to Tennessee State University (TSU) funded by a TBR Access and Diversity grant. It is designed to promote access to students from community colleges and other pre-college programs to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Several  students involved in the program have already presented papers with the Tennessee Academy of Science.

What makes someone want to go into engineering?  

“I am obsessed with electric rail systems.  I have been fascinated with them since I was a kid,” said Siegrist.  “I knew I was going to be an engineer and I’ve always been bound to mathematics.  Electrical engineering is a job that is tied to mathematics.  I really had a difficult time deciding between electrical or mechanical engineering.  But this program helped me to make that decision.  I told one of my math instructors, Mr. Kevin Woods, about all the math awards I had won.  He was the one that really pushed me to try and look into this great opportunity at TSU and the grant that they were offering.  They are one of the only institutions that offer credentials with their electrical engineering program. They have a future in the industry and they have a great placement program.”
Reflecting on how Kerry got involved in the program Woods said, “There is something about that aha moment when a student gets it, that is so rewarding.  When Tennessee State University contacted me about this scholarship program, I went to Ed Lowe and Rita Sowell to try and recruit students from their classes that were interested in going to TSU.  They recommended Kerry.  He has been ecstatic.  This is an opportunity to go to school that he would not have had, without this scholarship money.  They have an absolutely fantastic career placement division since there are a lot of graduates from TSU that serve on advisory councils, who are working in the industry.”
Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science at TSU shared his interest in drawing more students into this program.  “TSU has a continuing effort to partner with community colleges. We provide support for a student to be engaged in a research activity at TSU and if that student wants to continue and pursue a bachelor’s degree we help them do that. Students involved in research have a better persistence in college going.”
In addition to being a student, Siegrist serves a number of other roles. “I have got a five year old nephew, he’s fantastic, that I help with because my sister is a single mother.” 

Siegrist pointed out that caring for his nephew can be stressful but it is also quite rewarding.  Smiling, he said, “He is going to remember me, and that’s the best feeling of all.”
For more information about the engineering program at Vol State visit:
For information about the TSU program visit:
Volunteer State Community College

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