Lois Cooper Scholars Program

The Lois Cooper Scholars program at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville aims to increase the number of distinguished underrepresented STEM graduates from UW-Platteville. As part of the program you'll benefit from coordinated, comprehensive support, including:

  • An annual scholarship, renewable for up to four years
  • Extended orientation to assist with the transition to college
  • One-credit seminar course each semester specifically for Scholars focusing on academic and career development topics
  • Community engagement and service learning opportunities
  • Leadership skill development
  • Financial literacy development
  • Peer mentoring
  • Faculty/staff mentoring
  • Supplementary academic advising
  • Professional mentoring and networking events with industry representatives
  • Supportive learning community of peers, faculty, and staff

About Lois Cooper

Lois Cooper (1931-2014) was a true pioneer, blazing many trails and accomplishing many "firsts" during her lifetime. It is for her enduring spirit, perseverance, positive example, and service to others that UW-Platteville honors her with the naming of the Lois Cooper Scholars Program.

Early Years
Lois Louise Cooper (Saunders) was born November 25, 1931 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. After graduating high school, she attended Tougaloo College, near Jackson, Mississippi. However, she left Tougaloo College in 1950; later that year, she moved to California to be with her mother.

Beginning a Legacy: Pursuing Excellence
In 1953, Cooper began working as an Under Engineering Aide, with the Division of Highways and began working in February 1953; she was the first black woman to be hired in the Engineering Department at the Division of Highways (currently Caltrans).

She attended Los Angeles City College and Los Angeles State College and majored in mathematics. She began to take engineering classes at night in order to pass the Engineer in Training Exam (EIT). Fueled by her continued success, Lois went on to pass the Professional Engineers (PE) License exam. She was the first African American woman in California to pass the exam.

Forming the National Society of Black Engineers
In the 1970s, Cooper learned about the Los Angeles Council of Black Professional Engineers (LACBPE). She participated by visiting schools to talk to students about considering engineering as a profession. Also, the program showed the students the importance of math and science classes.The LACBPE developed another program called the EXCELL Program that used the skills of various members to teach math and science to students on Saturdays at various colleges.

During her time, Cooper held roles such as: program’s treasury, secretary, vice president and president. In addition, she recruited Ronald McNair to LACBPE. Through these and many efforts of engineers across the country, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) was formed.

A Program Modeled After a True Pioneer
It is the hope of the leadership team that the students selected as Cooper Scholars will embody Lois' love of learning, her "never give up" attitude, and her energy for encouraging others to explore STEM fields.


Commitment to Diversity

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the Lois Cooper Scholars Program are committed to recruiting, supporting and fostering a diverse, inclusive and civil community of students.

This scholarship program is supported by the College of EMS Student Success Programs and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs through funding from National Science Foundation S-STEM Award #1356052.

Footer Anchor