UHV receives increased grant for middle, high school STEM activities

The University of Houston-Victoria is planning to offer a computer science summer camp for middle school girls for the first time in addition to continuing its popular mathematics, robotics and computer science classes, camps and events thanks to a $30,000 grant from Alcoa Foundation.

Alcoa Foundation increased its annual grant to UHV this year from $20,000 to $30,000 to support and expand the university’s annual science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities including Math & Robotics Awareness Day in the spring.

Jeffrey Di Leo

“Alcoa Foundation has supported UHV’s math and science programs for years, and we are excited to receive this extra funding to expand our offerings,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “We are grateful for Alcoa’s support, and we look forward to continuing to impact the lives of students through learning about STEM subjects.”

The increase in funds will make it possible to add a computer science summer camp called Texas Women in Computing that is specifically for middle school girls that will focus on teaching computing, knowledge of computer science concepts and a foundation of computational thinking skills. The camp will be offered next summer and will have room for eight students. The camp will focus on encouraging female students to pursue their interest in computer science and STEM subjects, said Amjad Nusayr, UHV assistant professor of computer science.

Amjad Nusayr

“We want to reach out to these students and encourage them to explore these subjects,” said Nusayr, who will be leading the camp. “Computer science is an important subject in our society, and studies have shown that middle school is a good age to connect with students and help them find subjects that interest them. Many companies are looking to hire knowledgeable women, and this camp will help students get started and learn about computer science.”

In addition to the new camp, the extra funds will be used to maintain and update some of the equipment used in the robotics after-school courses and summer camp for middle and high school students. During the robotics courses, students learn how to build and program robots to complete different tasks using a variety of sensors. 

Ricardo Teixeira

UHV also plans to continue to offer its math summer camp and the annual Math & Robotics Awareness Day event, said Ricardo Teixeira, UHV associate professor of math. The awareness day event features competitions in math and computer science as well as STEM-related presentations by UHV faculty members. Students also are able to interact with representatives from STEM-related companies.

“Math & Robotics Awareness Day has become such a popular event, and every year gets better,” said Teixeira, who leads the event. “We are grateful for Alcoa’s support for this event, and we plan to continue to offer an outstanding program with plenty of topics for students to explore.”

Courtney Middleton-Sides

Programs such as Math & Robotics Awareness Day and contributions like the Alcoa Foundation grant are important ways to connect with students while also partnering with STEM-related companies in the community, said Courtney Middleton-Sides, UHV senior director of corporate and foundation relations.

“UHV prides itself on its ability to be a good community partner,” Middleton-Sides said. “These programs help us reach out to the industry leaders in the community and find out what they need to succeed in the future, and help high school and middle school students learn how they can find a great career in their hometown community.”

To learn more about the various programs available through the grant funding, contact Teixeira at 361-570-4206 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.