KEARNEY — Katy Ayers of Kearney will be able to conduct research, present at professional meetings and have internship opportunities at major employers in the Columbus area as a Project GPS scholar at Central Community College-Columbus.

Ayers is one of eight CCC-Columbus students who are Project GPS scholars for the 2019-20 academic year. The acronym stands for Growing Pathways to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Project GPS is a scholarship-awarding program sponsored by the National Science Foundation that targets high-achieving students with financial needs and who represent underserved populations in the STEM fields. Project GPS scholars receive two years of educational costs paid in full, including tuition and fees and room and board.

The NSF is a federally operated organization that funds the majority of scientific research and science education research in the United States.

Local industries such as Behlen Manufacturing, DNA Genetics, Loup Power District, Nebraska Public Power District and Pillen Family Farms have agreed to provide internship opportunities, tours and job shadowing.

“Our program emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of STEM careers, and provides opportunities for students majoring in areas as diverse as mechatronics, engineering and biology to work together on research projects,” said Steve Heinisch, co-principal investigator of the GPS Project.