April 8, 2010
Freshman Academy for STEM - at a Glance
Faculty Coordinator:
Moni Chauhan
Faculty Coordinator:
Robert Kueper
Freshman Coordinator:
Scott Beltzer

Areas of Study:
Liberal Arts and Sciences (Mathematics and Sciences), Science for Forensics, Engineering Science, Engineering Technology (Computer, Electronic, Laser & Fiber Optics, Mechanical)
New Media and Telecommunications Technology

Academy Office:
Science Bldg 332;
Phone 718-281-5340

Number of Enrolled students
(spring '10 semester):
approximately 250

"Students like the idea of a positive first point of contact—someone who is prepared to listen to all kinds of issues, not just academic. In fact students are so appreciative of the guidance they receive that they often drop by just to say things are going well.  -  Scott Beltzer, Freshman Coordinator

"I felt motivated to return to school, in part because of Scott who answered all of my questions and followed me through on everything."  -  Anthony Boston, STEM Academy student

Dr. Martì on the
Freshman Academies

Visit the Freshman Academies web page

Past Issues of FAQ

Read the Q&A's

Providing each Student with a Strong Foundation in Mathematics and Science

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academy is known for both its complexity and size -- it encompasses four major areas of study.

For these reasons, the individualized attention and guidance that are hallmarks of the academy structure is especially beneficial as students navigate the vast choices among the degree and specialized certificate programs, pre-requisites and demanding course loads within the STEM academic departments. Under the large umbrella of STEM, students may choose to major in Engineering, Science and Mathematics programs, Technology programs, Engineering Science, Liberal Arts and Sciences (Mathematics and Sciences), the John Jay Dual/Joint Associate in Science for Forensics degree program, Computer Engineering Technology, Laser and Fiber Optics Technology, and more. While the opportunities within the STEM Academy are rich and varied, the common denominator for all programs is a strong foundation in mathematics and science.

"Math is the keystone to all STEM courses," says Scott Beltzer, Freshman Coordinator of the STEM Academy. "In fact, students need pre-calculus just for the general Chemistry classes."

As Freshman Coordinator, Scott Beltzer helps students with registration, course selection and personal counseling—advising students who may need to take remedial mathematics or other basic skill courses in order to meet the requirements for the major. For students who continue to struggle with Mathematics, but want to stay in STEM, Scott refers them to Faculty Coordinator Robert Kueper, ‘83, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, who also instructs students in a new STEM major called New Media Technology.
"Traditionally, if a student could not meet the rigorous criteria for STEM, they became discouraged and fell through the cracks," says Professor Kueper. "Now we can offer these students-- who want to learn the language of the web-- a liberal arts path that can lead to promising careers in computer programming, web animation, database technology and other related fields."

An integral part of the STEM Academies are the High Impact Learning Experiences, which serve to further inspire and engage students with the goal of improving retention and graduation rates. The High Impact Learning Experiences last semester included stand-alone courses in Mathematics and English that focus on general education and critical thinking, and Learning Communities, which encourage group interaction and streamlined class schedules.

Meet Faculty Coordinator, Dr. Moni Chauhan,
Associate Professor of Chemistry

A Researcher Takes on a New Role and Makes a Startling Discovery

As an instructor, scholar, mentor, and researcher, Dr. Moni Chauhan—now in her new role as Faculty Coordinator for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Academy— finds that the structure of the Freshman Academies is a revelation to her.      

"While monitoring students’ academic progress has always been an important component of my teaching, it was not until I became involved in the Freshman Academies that I realized it is a daily necessity,” explains Dr. Chauhan. “Now, instead of seeing students five weeks into the semester, I meet with them beginning on the first day they arrive at Queensborough."

Dr. Chauhan, who has taught and studied all over the world, was drawn to the academies because of her natural ability to relate to students of varied ethnicities as well as her passion for research.

"The combination of my own background and the fact that research requires constant collaboration and communication, has made my experience as a Faculty Coordinator particularly satisfying," said Dr. Chauhan.

Born and raised in Kanpur, India, Dr. Chauhan received both her B.S. and master’s degrees in Chemistry at Kanpur University and then attended Montpelier University in France where she received her doctorate in Inorganic Materials and Polymer Chemistry. Dr. Chauhan spent a year in Tsukuba, Japan as a research associate at the National Institute of Materials and Chemical Research and subsequently conducted research at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. Her main areas of research are Silver, Palladium nano particles synthesis and application to industry and medicine.

In the STEM Academy, Dr. Chauhan and her colleagues gauge performance in the classroom through selected courses; encourage students to practice their scientific calculations online; and base exams on weaknesses in order to strengthen critical thinking. 
The results are promising, including increased student interest in research on campus, which has led to presentations at prestigious regional and national meetings and strong participation in Queensborough’s annual Honors Conference on campus.

Research, according to Dr. Chauhan, provides students with a foundation for future careers in the sciences, including technology, engineering and mathematics.

"There is a great need for professionals in these fields so it is imperative that we continue to do whatever we can at the community college level to provide students with the boost they need to continue their education and obtain good jobs."
Dr. Chauhan’s students will continue to conduct research on campus over the summer.

"To me," concludes Dr. Chauhan, “team work, learning and assessment are an ongoing process and as successful as this year has been, I have even greater expectations for the fall!”

QCC Alum and Faculty Coordinator, Robert Kueper
Draws on Life Experiences to Help Students

Professor Kueper, Faculty Coordinator, prides himself on providing academic and career mentoring to STEM academy students. As an icebreaker at the beginning of the fall semester, he gathered the STEM students into a large room and, gesturing to the STEM curriculum written on a blackboard, asked them to find a classmate in their program of study and exchange contact information. "The point of the exercise is to jump-start the relationship, paving the way for an academically-focused peer experience, an important facet of the academies," he explains.

Professor Kueper graduated from Queensborough in 1983 with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology and went on to earn a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Empire State College. Prior to becoming an instructor at Queensborough in 2000, he worked for 20 years as a computer technician on Wall Street and served in the U.S. Army Reserve for nearly 30 years. "My skills as a commander in the military translate well into the academies," comments Professor Kueper. "Our goal is retention and graduation!"

Getting to Know Freshman Coordinator, Scott Beltzer
Reaching Out, Making a Difference

In 2008, Freshman Coordinator Scott Beltzer was working at the main office for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Manhattan, processing claims for veterans, when he realized that he wanted to "help people more directly, and spend less time doing paperwork".  In October of the same year, he became Assistant Project Coordinator of the Veterans Center at Queensborough, informing Queensborough veterans about services, GI Bill benefits, personal counseling, as well as priority advisement and registration. He also created the successful Queensborough Student Veterans Association. In January of 2009, he learned of the available position in the Freshman Academies and was hired as the Freshman Coordinator for the STEM Academy shortly thereafter.

"Students like the idea of a positive first point of contact—someone who is prepared to listen to all kinds of issues, not just academic."  In fact, says Scott, "students are so appreciative of the guidance they receive that they often drop by just to say things are going well."

Scott recalls one student in particular, Anthony Boston, who, because of a severe car accident, had been home schooled during high school but was very excited to enroll last fall in the STEM Academy. Soon after the semester began, Anthony learned that his mother was gravely ill and told Scott that he needed to change from full-time to part-time student status. As Scott finished assisting him with the necessary paperwork to drop some of his classes, Anthony’s mother died. Scott supported his subsequent decision to withdraw from Queensborough in order to regroup and personally accompanied him from office to office to complete the process. Then, a few weeks before the holidays, Anthony returned to campus and asked Scott to register him for the spring semester. "I felt motivated to return to school, in part because of Scott who answered all of my questions and followed me through on everything," said Anthony, who is studying Electrical Engineering and plans to one day be the sole electrician at his own sports bar. Reflecting on the series of events, Scott adds, "Anthony has what it takes to succeed--he just needed the kind of personal connection that the academies offer in order to overcome his obstacles."

Scott earned an A.A.S. degree in Liberal Arts from Suffolk County Community College and then went on to earn his B.A. degree in Sports Management with a minor in Business at Adelphi University. Currently, Scott is pursuing his Masters in Mental Health Counseling at Long Island University-C.W. Post.