May 12, 2000


UCSD Receives $220,000 National Science Foundation Grant for Computer Science, Engineering and Math Scholarships

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the University of California, San Diego $220,000 over the next two years to fund 40 scholarships for underrepresented and low-income undergraduates who are pursuing degrees in computer science, engineering and mathematics. Each scholarship provided through the NSF grant will total up to $2,500 annually for two years.



In a space-age setting at the San Diego Supercomputer Center on the campus of UCSD, mechanical engineering student Benjamin Leon (seated) discusses how the $220,000 National Science Foundation grant will affect undergraduate technological training for underrrepresented students. Also pictured (from left to right) are: Alma King, a mechanical engineering student; Jeffrey Remmel, chair, Mathematics Department; Marina Hayden, assistant director of Engineering Student Services; Tamara Parsons, student affairs officer, Academic Enrichment Programs; Anthony Sebald, assistant dean, Jacobs School of Engineering, and Angelica Sugrero, a mechanical engineering student.

UCSD is one of a select number of other institutions nationwide approved to receive funding for Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Scholarships (CSEMS), the NSF announced recently.

The scholarships, whose funding is authorized by the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998, are intended to help increase the number of low-income ethnic minorities, women and persons with disabilities graduating in the fields of science, math and high-technology.

At UCSD, the scholarship program will be administered by a recently created CSEMS Program established by the Division of Student Affairs' Academic Enrichment Programs, the Jacobs School of Engineering, Mathematics Department, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).

"One very nice aspect of the grant," says Joseph Watson, UCSD vice chancellor of Student Affairs, "is that it brings together three important technological areas at UCSD - the School of Engineering, Mathematics Department, and the SDSC - in an important student-related partnership. The financial assistance provided by the scholarships will help participating low-income students her focus more on academics, and enhance our existing Academic Enrichment and Student Educational Advancement programs."

In addition, he says, the CSEMS program will assist more low-income students to become "better integrated into their field of study by encouraging them to participate n faculty research, internships and networking — experiences which provide excellent preparation for graduate school and employment."

Anthony Sebald, associate dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering, agrees: "While these scholarships are not expected to be a panacea or `magic bullet,' we welcome the enhancement they will bring to our current educational initiatives at the School of Engineering (such as the Corporate Affiliates Program and the MESA Program) to support academic achievement, professional development, retention and graduation of low-income students."

The San Diego Supercom-puter Center, the Mathematics Department, and the Academic Enrichment Programs will also play integral roles in the CSEMS program by engaging students in internships, research experiences and mentoring activities in data-intensive computing and engineering.

To receive scholarships, participating students must remain enrolled full time in a CSEMS major; maintain a grade-point average of at least 2.8, and participate in educational enrichment activities designed to encourage their involvement with faculty and peers through mentoring and collaborative learning and research.

Financial eligibility for the program is based on criteria from the U.S. Department of Education for Pell Grants, and for the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Program.

Statistics show that despite recent gains in the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities obtaining degrees at all levels of science and engineering, these groups continue to be underrepresented in the science and engineering graduate programs and in the labor force. This is specially true among doctoral scientists and engineers in computer science, mathematics, and engineering.

"By assuring that we graduate a qualified, well-prepared and diversified student body in the sciences, math and high technology, UCSD continues in its mission of contributing substantially to the growth and development of cutting-edge technology," says Watson.

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