University of Vermont

New Scholarship Grant to Benefit Computer Science Students

students at library
The project aims to raise awareness among individuals who do not traditionally select computer science as a major, with an emphasis on recruiting female in-state students. (Photo: Sally McCay)

Maggie Eppstein, chair of Computer Science (CS) at the University of Vermont, was recently awarded a competitive $650K 5-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), as part of the new NSF S-STEM program (Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). This S-STEM scholarship project will address the significant shortage of computer scientists, both in Vermont and at the national level. The project will increase the number and diversity of well-educated, skilled employees in computer science.

This exciting project improves educational opportunities in CS at UVM by providing scholarships to academically talented students with demonstrated financial need. Specifically, the project will provide scholarships, averaging more than $8,000 per year, to each of 16 CS majors; six to new CS majors starting in fall 2014, and 10 starting in fall 2015. These scholarships will be added to the financial aid packages provided by UVM, thus making a UVM CS education more affordable for these students. Assuming the students maintain strong grades as full-time CS majors, they will receive these scholarships for each of 4 years.  By law, scholarship award criteria can only include financial need and demonstrated academic strength.

All scholarship recipients will receive significant mentoring throughout their four years at UVM, including internship and career development and placement services. The project will also improve UVM's ability to develop leaders in the field of computer science by raising awareness through outreach efforts and recruiting individuals who do not traditionally select computer science as a major, with an emphasis on recruiting female in-state students. UVM CS students are currently only about 17 percent female, while nationwide only about 12 percent of CS bachelor’s degrees are awarded to women at PhD granting institutions. Through mentoring and advising by female faculty and supporting the creation of a female CS student group, UVM CS is working to create a strong female cohort, with the aim of increasing recruitment and retention of female CS students, both scholarship recipients and others.

Selection of this year’s six scholarship winners is currently under way. Academically talented high school seniors who are interested in learning more about the diverse and exciting field of CS, and what UVM’s three majors in CS have to offer, are encouraged to visit our website (cs.uvm.edu), attend the annual CS Fair (1-4 p.m., Dec 1, 2014, in the Grand Maple Ballroom, Davis Center, UVM), or contact Eppstein directly: Maggie.Eppstein@uvm.edu.