NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A multimillion dollar grant awarded to Tennessee State University aims to boost retention and diversity in the engineering field.

TSU’s College of Engineering has been awarded $2.25 million in grant money from the National Science Foundation to help with retention. Scholarships will be given to first-year students to help with the financial strains of the major.

“It’s just something that you have to put constant time into,” said Cameron Anderson, a freshman engineering major. “I’ve always been drawn to engineering. Growing up as a kid, I loved robotics.”

Administrators found students like the program, but some couldn’t afford to stay due to the combination of course workload and needing to fund their education through extra jobs. The grant will help them stay on track with passing pre-math and physics classes.

“I feel like it’s very important. It gives somewhat of an incentive to stay in. I know some people give up on it for financial reasons,” said Anderson.

Nationally, engineering is among the top majors for college dropouts, the rate sitting at over 50%. Of those who make it into the field, roughly 6% are African American. A study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows in 2019, of the 1.7 million prime-age engineering workers, 81% were white, while only 3% were black.

“Which is sad. I feel like we haven’t been educated on other fields that we can do. I don’t feel like we can’t do it,” said Anderson.

Recipients for the grant money have not been selected yet. Students said these types of resources will open the door to more diversity.

“It just boosts our numbers in the engineering field altogether. I definitely feel like it’s positive,” Anderson said.