USDA grant to support fashion merchandising

  • Money will be used for digital design hardware

    Thursday, May 11, 2017
    Dr. Grace Namwamba

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has been awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that will be used to bring the latest digital technology to fashion design and merchandising classes. 

    The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture notified Dr. Grace Namwamba, chairwoman of UMES' Department of Human Ecology, that the university will receive $147,479 to purchase customized computer hardware also used in the fashion industry. 

    U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said, “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I'm committed to making important federal investments in the Eastern Shore and the entire state. Together, we will improve our schools, expand our job training programs, and grow our economy.” 

    Namwamba said the new equipment will enable the university to expand its curriculum as well as partner with a leading software provider she has approached about supporting the modernization of the university's fashion merchandising program. 

    “This grant will have far-reaching effects and allow us to apply technology across the curriculum,” Namwamba said. 

    About 90 UMES undergraduates major in fashion merchandising, and Namwamba sees the new computer-driven lab courses as a crucial selling point in growing enrollment. 

    “Our students will be more engaged,” Namwamba said, “and more in demand by the fashion industry.” 

    U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, also a Maryland Democrat, joined Van Hollen in applauding UMES for securing the federal grant. 

    “Access to the latest technology is critical for students' long-term success," Cardin said. "It ensures they have the familiarity and training necessary to compete in this rapidly changing market.” 

    He said, “Federal investments like these go a long way toward exposing Maryland's students to that technology and improving our schools' job training programs. That's a win-win for the next generation of the Eastern Shore's working professionals and the local economy alike.” 

    Namwamba joined the UMES faculty in July 2015 from Southern University in Louisiana, where she was a professor and chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and was known for her success in writing grant applications. 

    At Southern, she procured generous funding used for a Computer-Aided-Design laboratory, a 3D Body Scanning laboratory, a Digital Textile Printing laboratory, two textile testing laboratories and a high-tech multi-media classroom. 

    Namwamba said one of her goals is to do the same at UMES.