To help address the critical shortage of students majoring in computer fields at the local, state, and national levels, this project is supporting 28 academically excellent and financially needy undergraduate students majoring in Computer Science and Computer Engineering (CSCE). New and transfer college students satisfying and maintaining the scholarship academic merit award criteria receive a scholarship of up to $4,800 per academic year for up to five years.
The project is expanding two prior NSF scholarship programs (DUE0323994 and 0728350) offered to engineering students. This project builds on successful outcomes and lessons learned by adapting two of the main features: mentorship for each scholarship recipient and a cohort living and learning community. New features in this project include heavy involvement by the local business community in the professional development of the scholarship recipients, and use of local Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and the Tennessee Universal transfer program to recruit freshmen and transfer students into the program. The project includes supplemental instruction to improve retention rates and electronic professional portfolios to enhance career placement. Minority and female students are especially encouraged to apply. This program serves as a model for a living and learning community at the university and in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) higher educational environments. The goal is for 85% of the scholars to graduate with a computer science or computer engineering degree.
Intellectual Merit: The recruitment plan for freshman students draws on existing relationships with local businesses and partnerships with faculty, high school teachers, local community organizations, student ambassadors, and community colleges. Recruited scholars are being provided newly designed services and timely support geared towards their needs. Local and regional industry representatives serve as resources to enhance career exploration efforts and academic success of the scholarship recipients and to assist students in their transition to the workplace.
Broader Impacts: These scholarships allow academically talented and financially disadvantaged students to concentrate on their studies. Many activities proposed are being institutionalized and available to all students at the university. This program is helping to produce the technically educated workforce necessary for sustained regional economic growth for the region. Partnerships with local industry enhance job placement for students and outreach of the university into the community.