VINCENNES - The vice president for finance and government relations at Vincennes University says an effort designed to attract more women into advanced manufacturing fields focuses on "fit," not necessarily grade point average. VU is offering nearly four dozen scholarships for a new on-campus living/learning community for female students and is targeting potential candidates through a partnership with the Indiana Manufacturers Association. Phil Rath says it is critical for employers in male-dominated STEM fields to connect with more women.

Rath says the effort will focuses on preparing students for high-demand careers including advanced CNC machining, advanced manufacturing automation technology, industrial maintenance, architectural studies, computer integrated manufacturing, construction, John Deere and Diesel, electronics, precision machining, product design and production processes, surveying and welding.

Rath says the program could even help boost employee retention rates for Indiana manufacturers. He says if graduates of the programs will be able to use their new skills to find jobs closer to home and family, which "is just going to pay huge returns for these manufacturers." Rath tells Inside INdiana Business the program's partnership with the IMA will help it connect more directly with students interested in the field. He says the scholarship money is not based on academic achievement. Instead, Rath says, "we call it a 'fit' scholarship. Meaning that, if you have a passion to do this, you've been exposed to it, you have a fit, that you're going to continue and make this happen. We think that is far more important to retention than anything. That you're in what you want to do and that you see a career path. We think this is very innovative."

He says the program was rolled out just last week and it has already received statewide interest.

VU says its College of Technology Scholarships for Women are offered on a "first-come, first-served" basis and nominations can be made by contacting Diana Hatton at 812-888-5101 or dhatton@vinu.edu.