GRAD Lab Overview

The National GEM Consortium

Getting Ready for Advanced Degrees (GRAD) Lab 

GRAD Lab Logo

Symposium Description

About GEM

The National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM), a non-profit organization, was formed in 1976 to enhance the value of the nation's human capital by increasing the participation of underrepresented talent at the master's and doctoral levels in engineering and science. GEM is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. GEM is jointly sponsored by a consortium of university and company members.

GEM accomplishes its mission by identifying and attracting highly qualified students to matriculate in engineering and science graduate school programs and by providing students fellowships through a cost-effective process of matching students with the needs of member universities and company sponsors.

Through GEM, comprehensive nationwide programs have been established to identify, recruit, and enroll minority science and engineering students in graduate programs leading to advanced degrees. GEM offers MS Engineering, Ph.D. Engineering, and Ph.D. Science Fellowships. In addition to offering fellowships, GEM produces publications and videos for graduate, undergraduate, and pre-college students. GEM also provides seminars, conferences and training courses to prepare undergraduates to succeed in graduate curricula and guidance to graduate level students on how to achieve success in doctoral research programs.

GRAD Lab Overview

An advanced degree in engineering or science can open doors to even more challenging and responsible careers-especially in the dynamic and sophisticated areas of high technology research. Every year a significant number of underrepresented minorities enter undergraduate engineering and science curricula; however, underrepresented minorities represent less than five percent of the recipients of advanced degrees in engineering or science.

It is GEM's belief that if highly qualified minority students were exposed to the benefits of a career in research and technology innovation, via presentations from individuals from their communities who have received a graduate engineering or science degree and are currently successful in their careers, and were given resources on how to apply to graduate school, more students would apply and successfully matriculate in graduate engineering and science programs.

To address this issue, GEM has created GRAD Lab, Getting Ready for Advanced Degree Lab, a comprehensive, hands-on symposium designed to excite and encourage promising under-graduate and community college engineering and science students to consider master and Ph.D. technical research programs. The symposium will encourage their consideration of graduate engineering school by delivering vital information on the importance of research and innovation, life-long career benefits and real world role-model examples of success. The day-long event will help each student envision his or her future as a technology leader, successfully apply for a GEM fellowship, and gain entry ta graduate program. Industry and academic professionals will share their career, graduate school and GEM experiences with these potential graduate students.

Key Components

The GRAD Lab symposium will focus on providing students a perspective on the benefits of having a graduate degree in engineering or science.

  • Component 1: Conference Keynote Address

GRAD Lab attendees will have the opportunity to receive a dynamic presentation from a leader in the technology community that will give an overview of the need to stay competitive in engineering and technology and how we must invest in students in order to be globally competitive.

Component 2: Why Graduate School?

The case will be made on why students from under-represented communities who are currently matriculating  or are a recent graduate from a STEM program must go to gradaute school in a STEM field to remain competitive. Topics such as financial benefits, expansive career opportunities, information on benefits of a research career, and global competitive trends will be discussed.

  • Component 3: How to Apply

This panel session will have 2-3 panellists that will address these five central questions:

  • How do I apply for graduate school?
  • How can I submit a competitive application?
  • How is a Graduate School application different from Undergraduate application?
  • What is a Statement of Purpose? How do I write a statement of purpose?
  • How do I ensure I receive strong recommendation letters?


  • Component 4: How to Fund Graduate School

A GEM staff member or alum will present the details on how to finance their graduate education through the GEM fellowship program and other national external fellowships. At selected GRAD Labs, GEM employer members will present opportunities within their firm for graduate students through the GEM program.

  • Component 5: Voices from the Field: Real Life Experiences

GEM Fellows or GEM Alumni representing academia, corporate and government agencies will discuss:

  • why they decided to go to graduate school
  • their graduate school experience
  • their life as compared to colleagues with only an undergraduate degree
  • their work life, day to day experiences
  • their view of their current professional roles, and their career opportunities
  • their salaries, ability to pay off loans, and general quality of life.


Resources will be distributed –  a self assessment that will identify the specific knowledge gaps on graduate school, the application process and knowledge of funding opportunities, comprehensive materials that align with each workshop, handouts from national funding organizations, GEM brochure with details on partnering organizations, and  information on how to receive a fee reduction waiver to take the GRE.

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