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CME department receives $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant

ISSUED: 26 August 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Dana Costa

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Students studying computer science, mathematics, and engineering (CME) at Shepherd University will have access to additional scholarship money thanks to a $1.5 million National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program (S-STEM) grant.

The grant will allow Shepherd to award 126 scholarships over the next five years to academically talented students with a demonstrated financial need who are majoring in data analytics, mathematics, computer information sciences, computer information technology, computer engineering, or engineering science.

“Some of our very talented students have to work so many hours at the kind of job that is not relevant to their field of study,” said Dr. Qing Wang, professor of mathematics, who spearheaded the effort to apply for the grant. “We want to reduce the number of hours that students have to work outside the campus in jobs that aren’t related to their field.”

The grant will give Shepherd’s CME program the ability to offer up to 56 students financial, academic, social, and career support. The money can be used to cover tuition, fees, textbooks, and residence halls. The program’s main goals are to increase enrollment and retention, improve four-year graduation rates, increase the number of graduating students who find jobs or continue to graduate school immediately after graduation, and enhance student support.

Students selected for the scholarships will be eligible to receive up to $10,000 a year, depending on need. They will participate in summer bridge programs, internships, research opportunities, career development services, S-STEM seminars, and have interactions with local industry representatives. Wang said a similar grant awarded to Shepherd between 2013-2019 was successful.

“We found from previous awards that students who get support from this program do show higher retention and graduation rates,” she said. “They found internship and research opportunities or entry-level jobs right after graduation.”

One alumnus who benefited from the previous grant is Stephan G. Hockley. He returned to college in his 50s after working as a land survey technician in the construction trades. He graduated in 2017 with a degree in computer information science and currently works as a system administrator for IBM in Rocket Center, West Virginia.

“Because I knew the writing-was-on-the-wall for land surveying, I had already begun to save for college during the great recession,” Hockley said. “I was totally self-funded my first year at Shepherd, so these savings only covered the first year.”

Hockley received an S-STEM scholarship, which helped cover costs for the next three year and allowed him to obtain his degree.

“The S-STEM Scholarship for two years plus other fellowships covered my tuition and books at Shepherd,” he said.

The first scholarships from the new grant will be awarded in spring 2022. In the first year, it will support about 11 new and returning students. Wang said the number of scholarship recipients will increase each year and continuing students will be automatically renewed for up to four years.

More information about this and other scholarship opportunities is available on the CME webpage.

Audio of Dr. Qing Wang is available here.

 

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