March 11, 2016 – Energy industry heavyweights and federal government leaders recently turned out to support a flagship Fort Valley State University program helping students from underrepresented groups to pursue careers in the energy industry. The campus held its 33rd Annual Energy Career Day and Student Recruitment Conference on Feb. 23 in the C.W. Pettigrew Center. This year’s luncheon raised more than $578,378 for student scholarships and the maintenance of the program.
During the luncheon, Fort Valley State University President Dr. Paul Jones thanked donors for their commitment to the university’s flagship program.
“How proud I am to take a part in this ceremony today, and wonderful program of distinction,” Jones said. “I want to thank all of the supporters. We couldn’t have done this without you. Our students would not have these amazing opportunities without your support.”
Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Developmental Energy Program is the America’s only Cooperative Developmental Energy Program. In 1983, Dr. Isaac J. Crumbly, FVSU’s associate vice president of collaborative and career programs, founded CDEP with start-up funds from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a long-term mutually beneficial relationship between FVSU and the nation’s leading energy companies.
In the program, academically talented students from underrepresented groups and women, pursue dual bachelor’s degree. For three years, the students earn a science or math-related degree from FVSU, then transfer to one of the campus partners schools to earn an energy-related bachelor’s degree in engineering, geosciences and health physics.
Crumbly thanked sponsors and parents for attending the luncheon.
“FVS proudly ranks number one in the nation for producing African-American graduates in math and statistics,” he said. “And this is because we have and excellent faculty. This is my 51st year at FVSU and 53rd in higher education.” Crumbly said the achievement was not accomplished by himself alone, but with the help of his colleagues.
Later in the afternoon, FVSU’s partner schools – including the Georgia Institute of Technology, Penn State University, the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, University of Texas-Austin, and the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley – welcomed graduating seniors that were transferring to their campuses.
One of this year’s CDEP graduating seniors was Arnold Eatmon, a dual-degree mathematics/geosciences major that was the sole FVSU student transferring to the University of Texas-Austin.
Eatmon matriculated through the entire CDEP pipeline, became familiar with FVSU as a middle school student attending the Mathematics, Science and Engineering Academy (MSEA). The goal of CDEP’s MSEA program is to provide a continuous pipeline for minority and female students from 9th grade through undergraduate and graduate levels of study that are majoring in mathematics, the sciences or engineering. The middle school and high school students are usually the crème of the crop in their school.
Eatmon’s mother signed him up for the academy at the end of his eighth grade year in 2009. The student said the academy provided him with a solid, positive foundation of mathematics and exposed him to careers in the sciences and energy industry.
“I would definitely say that MSEA was my primary exposure to mathematics and the geosciences,” the Snellville, Ga. native said.
“During high school we started to visit companies like Shell Oil Company, BP and P66 (the year the two companies had just split into two entities down in Houston, Texas. I got to hear from African Americans working in these industries and about their experiences working in their fields. The more I learned from them, the more I understood CDEP’s mission to increase the number of African Americans and minorities in the energy industry. That played a big role in my decision during my senior year as far as my choice for schools.”
Eatmon visited different schools in Georgia during his senior year in high school. In 2013, he graduated from high school and although he was accepted to several Georgia schools, he chose FVSU.
“I remember that I got scholarships from Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, but none were full scholarships the way that CDEP was,” Eatmon said. He left home a few weeks after getting his diploma and enrolled at FVSU during the summer.
To qualify for CDEP scholarship, students must earn a 3.5 GPA, have two letters of recommendation, and a combined math and critical reading SAT scores of 1100 (minimum 550 math) or a composite score of 26 on the ACT. At this year’s luncheon, six high school students received full ride scholarships.
During his time at FVSU, Eatmon made the most of the opportunities he encountered. The student received an internship his first year at the Integrative Computational and Educational Research Training Program hosted by the University of Texas, Austin. Eatmon was mentored by Dr. Susan Pierce and worked in the Computational Geosciences Department.
“I worked with data from the Edwards Aquifer in Austin Texas, and made inferences from the data provided and computational visualizations, and tried to optimize ways to make things faster and create workloads that haven’t been there before.”
Eatmon also interned with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked as an ocean model researcher. Eatmon spoke about his time at Los Alamos before an audience of CDEP donors.
“The training at FVSU has more than prepared me for the challenges ahead,” Eatmon said at the conference. Later in the program, like other graduating seniors, Eatmon received a warm welcome for representatives from the partner school. He received a t-shirt and other memorabilia from the University of Texas-Austin.
At the close of the program, representatives from energy companies and federal agencies handed out checks to ensure that CDEP continues helping students.
• Exxon Mobil Company- $50,000
• Chevron Company- $42,500
• Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)– $293,878
• Shell Oil Company – $105,000
• Thurgood Marshall College Fund – $62,000
• Southern Company – $15,000
• Aera Energy – $10,000
Caption: Student Arnold Eatmon accepts an award from Dr. Isaac J. Crumbly, director of CDEP, at the annual 33rd Annual Energy Career Day and Student Recruitment Conference and Luncheon.