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  March 5, 2001

Engineering Nets NSF Grants
for IT Scholarships

The School of Engineering has received two grants totaling nearly $350,000, to support undergraduate scholarships in information technology.

The grants, awarded by the National Science Foundation, will support about 100 scholarships for students enrolled in the Departments of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering and pursuing B.S. degrees in computer science or computer engineering.

According to NSF's Science and Engineering Indicators report of 1998, 1.2 million new engineering and information technology jobs will be created in the period from 1996 to 2006. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics supports this projection and foresees a severe U.S. labor shortage of 190,000 information technology workers in coming years.

To help reverse this trend, NSF established a special, competitive grant plan called the Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarships program. The program is intended to help American colleges and universities address the current and anticipated shortfall of skilled computer engineers.

The School of Engineering submitted two separate proposals that secured funding under this highly competitive NSF program. funding. Reda Ammar, head of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering and one of the principal investigators on the interdepartmental proposal, says "These scholarship programs are a very important component of what necessarily must be a multi-pronged approach to ameliorating the nation's current need for computer engineers in order to aid industry, government and education in the United States."

In January, the NSF awarded $198,000 for a joint proposal between the Departments of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering to support up to 40 two-year scholarships, each in the amount of $3,125, for undergraduate engineering students enrolled in computer engineering.

The scholarship program will target economically disadvantaged students, with monies being awarded during the sophomore and junior years. During the first year, 20 qualified students will receive scholarships that will be sustained into the second year depending on continued eligibility; during the second year, another 20 students will receive scholarship support. It is hoped the NSF funding will be renewed after the two-year trial period.

Prospective recipients will be recruited from three pools: community technical colleges, engineering students who have not declared a disciplinary major, and students who are transferring from other majors into computer engineering.

Actively recruiting community college graduates into computer engineering is a new approach. "The program is creating synergy for community college students to continue their education and will help them better apply their knowledge and experience in the workplace," says Mehdi Anwar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and a co-principal investigator on the joint proposal.

In June 2000, Robert McCartney, an associate professor of computer science and engineering, was awarded $150,000 to subsidize scholarships for students from traditionally under-represented populations earning a B.S. in computer science combined with a minor or concentration in another discipline.

These "academic diversity in computer science" or scholarships will support up to 40 undergraduate students during their sophomore and junior years, providing $2,500 a year. In addition, qualified students will receive additional academic support through student-to-st udent tutoring and participation in a mentoring relationship.

More information about the academic diversity scholarships is available at For additional information about the new scholarships in computer engineering, please contact the individual departments: Computer Science & Engineering at (860) 486-3719, or Electrical & Computer Engineering at (860) 486-0080.

Nan Cooper