INSTITUTE, W.Va. -- American Electric Power has donated $300,000 to West Virginia State University to establish a program that's designed to get more young people interested in energy, science and math.
The funding will benefit the establishment of a WVSU AEP Foundation Full STEAM (Science, Technology, Education, Agriculture and Mathematics) Ahead Program, which is slated to be up and running by the next school year.
The program will work to increase awareness of the STEAM fields throughout elementary and high schools in West Virginia, in addition to creating new internships and research opportunities for underclassmen at State.
The donation also will support a new faculty research position dedicated to bio-energy.
"When you think about what's going on in this state in terms of energy, this is an important step in terms of our research agenda," WVSU President Brian Hemphill said. "Students who engage in hands-on research are more likely to maintain enrollment and graduate, and that's one of the reasons this is so important. This gift will improve student retention and prepare them to enter the work force."
Charles Patton, president and chief operating officer of AEP subsidiary Appalachian Power, presented Hemphill with a check after a routine Board of Governors meeting Thursday. Plans for the program were announced in November 2012, but the donor of the $300,000 remained anonymous until Thursday afternoon.
"This emphasizes the education of young people, particularly in the sciences, and that is something AEP supports," Patton said. "In addition, there are elements of energy research and, of course, as a global energy company, we are very much committed to that."
Patton said AEP also recognizes WVSU for its importance to the local community and the state.