In an effort to support American Indians enrolled in higher education a number of South Dakota’s universities and colleges have established American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) programs, a national nonprofit organization focused on substantially increasing the representation of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, First Nations and other indigenous peoples of North America in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and careers. SD EPSCoR, through its diversity efforts and various investments in building South Dakota’s STEM workforce, realizes that investment in this type of program is critical in building diversity in South Dakota’s STEM workforce.

AISES chapters provide a number of resources for American Indian students by supporting them through educational experiences and providing a gathering place for students, advisors, financial resources and cultural events. In October of 2015, SD EPSCoR initiated an investment to expand AISES chapters at South Dakota institutions that had significant American Indian presence and to establish an AISES professional chapter in South Dakota. This initial effort provided the opportunity for institutions interested in starting an AISES chapter to attend the AISES national conference to better understand the purpose of AISES and gather insight on how other chapters manage their programs. This initial effort led to the establishment of an AISES chapter at Sinte Gleska University in January of 2016 and startup efforts in establishing a statewide professional chapter. Three other institutions including Lower Brule Community College and Sisseton Wahpeton College are currently working to establish chapters.

Another outcome from investing in higher education AISES advisors attending the national conference was the opportunity for South Dakota State University to successfully secure its campus as the host to the 2017 AISES Region Five conference. This conference brings chapters together from seven midwest states and parts of Canada to discuss local challenges and build leadership skills through presentations and workshops.

In February of 2016, SD EPSCoR hosted a symposium bringing chapter advisors and students from all institutional chapters together for the first time to outline current efforts and areas that need to be addressed. This symposium also provided chapters the opportunity to establish a network among themselves to share resources and ideas. Through this symposium the chapters identified that more interaction with industry was greatly needed. Discussions surrounded various opportunities for industry to interact with chapters, mentor students, and provide internship opportunities.

Through the initial efforts in the development of the South Dakota AISES Professional Chapter, members have identified the following goals to help address and encourage industry interaction with AISES chapters and students.

  • Establish an e-mentoring page of members
  • Develop outreach activities and network with high education, PUI and TCU campus chapters
  • Promote internships within their respective companies
  • Network among student chapters
  • Promote STEM degrees and assist in career placement
  • Facilitate the SD EPSCoR diversity summit

Join the SD EPSCoR AISES Facebook group for updates on meetings and events. Click HERE!

For more information on AISES or to become a member, visit

 2016 AISES National Conference


November 10-12, 2016  I  Minneapolis, MN

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