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April 28, 2021 - Ten Colleges and Universities Awarded Over $700,000 to Host STEM Camps

Date: April 28, 2021

Media Contact: Cisco Gamez Phone: 512-463-8556


AUSTIN – The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) awarded 10 grants totaling $717,377 to Texas universities and community colleges for summer youth camps that focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through the Governor’s Summer Merit Program. The grants provide scholarships for students ages 14 to 21 to attend camps that will help prepare them for future high-skill, high-demand jobs.

“As Texas employers become more technologically advanced, we must ensure that the next generation of Texans are prepared with the STEM skills they need for success,” said Governor Abbott. “Congratulations to the 10 Texas colleges and universities for being selected by the Texas Workforce Commission for my office’s Summer Merit Program, and thank you for your commitment to STEM education. This program will provide students across the state with STEM-based training that will better prepare them to compete for the high demand careers of the present and future.”

Administered by TWC, the effort is part of the Governor’s Summer Merit Program which aims to inspire Texas youth to pursue STEM-related careers. The camps introduce students to advanced technologies and manufacturing, aerospace and defense, biotechnology and life sciences, information and computer technology and energy.

“The Governor’s Summer Merit Program encourages young Texans to pursue STEM fields which set them on the path for future careers in Texas’ innovative industries,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “Thanks to Governor Abbott and the contributions of our university and community college grantees, students will gain valuable STEM education and career exploration opportunities.”   

Several of the camps are specifically targeted to encourage young women and minorities to pursue further education and careers in STEM fields.

“Our students are the future industry leaders of Texas, so we need to make sure we give them an edge and a head start towards learning the tools they will need,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “The Governor’s Summer Merit Program allows students to explore STEM and the exciting possibilities waiting for them when they enter the workforce.”

Some students will have the opportunity to take field trips that will give them access to the Space Center Houston or provide hands-on experience with high-tech geological equipment. Others will visit science and engineering facilities and have the opportunity to meet and speak with industry professionals in such fields as energy and manufacturing.

“Through the Governor’s Summer Merit Program, students acquire STEM-related skills that are highly sought out by our Texas employers,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson. “Our specialized industries rely on programs like the Governor’s Summer Merit Program to inspire young students to follow their passions into rewarding STEM fields.”

The 10 Summer Merit Program grant recipients are:

  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, $47,000 - Students will be selected from applications; rising ninth graders are eligible for Biology Camp; and rising tenth- and eleventh graders are eligible for Chemistry and Physics camps, respectively. The Biology, Chemistry, and Physics camps are laboratory-based.
  • Texas Southmost College, $100,000 – Three tracks will be offered: Track One—Biotechnology and Medicine, Track Two—Physics and Robotics, and Track Three—Cybersecurity and iOS App Development. Some courses will be offered as dual-credit, aligned with the dual credit Pathways program.
  • Southern Methodist University, $81,900 - Two Mars Mission camps will be run for high school students based on the current NASA Perseverance Mission to Mars that will arrive at Mars in February 2021. The Mars Mission Camps will be separated into 3 teams of students: Drone Team, Rocket and Landing Team, and the Rover Team. They will work together and with industry mentors during the week of the camp to prepare for a remote Mission to Mars that they will present to their parents, family and friends on the last day of camp.
  • Texas A&M University, $71,500 - Three camps will be offered: Camp SECURE - Introduction to Cybersecurity; . Camp SMART - AI and STEM Computing; and Mathematics in STEM Camp. Each camp will run for 5-days and will offer 40 hours of instruction in the form of classroom instruction, hands-on experiences, and relevant field trips.
  • San Jacinto College, $50,415 - The camp is designed for eligible students aged 14-18 and will focus on mathematics and science related to engineering and STEM careers. The camp includes a full day field trip to Space Center Houston where students will tour Mission Control at Nasa Johnson Space Center and the Sonny Carter Neutral Buoyancy Lab.
  • Stephen F. Austin State University, $100,000 – Camps at the Investigations of Math and Science Academy will include project-based hands-on learning activities and field work opportunities and industry-specific field trips.
  • Houston Community College, $69,971 - Two Virtual Reality summer camps and three Apple Swift Coding summer camps will be hosted. Each summer camp will recruit students from schools serving low socio-economic youth.
  • Lamar University, $100,000 - The Digital Dreamers summer camps will specialize in coding/programming. Students will be introduced to the utilization of Scratch software, SparkFun Inventor's Kit, and 3D printing. The Texas Governor’s School will be a 2-wk residential camp with the primary goal of introducing students to college life and increasing the students' knowledge and experience with postsecondary STEM leading to their selection of STEM as a career choice and major in higher education.
  • Palo Alto College, $83,206 - Youth will learn about coding fundamentals and career possibilities from instructors hired by PAC from Youth Code Jam (YCJ). YCJ experiences engage students in ways that get them excited about coding, engineering and robotics, building confidence in their skills and inspiring them to imagine themselves in the tech-driven jobs of the future.
  • Central Texas College, $13,385 - The summer camp program, College for Kids (CFK), is a summer enrichment program that emphasizes hands-on experience and encourages children to explore new things and discover hidden talents. Students will use the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 robotics system and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 expansion packs to strengthen their design engineering and coding skills by solving complex, real-world problems of computer-controlled machines.


The Texas Workforce Commission is a state agency dedicated to helping Texas employers, workers and communities prosper economically. For details on TWC and the services it offers in coordination with its network of local workforce development boards, call 512-463-8942 or visit To receive notifications about TWC programs and services subscribe to our email updates.