EL PASO, TX – The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide financial aid and professional development experiences to talented students in the field of computer science.
As part of NSF’s Scholarships for STEM (S-STEM) program, the initiative will provide partial scholarships to 26 UTEP students pursuing their undergraduate degrees and focusing on data science or cybersecurity.
The university reported that its Department of Computer Science will also collaborate with El Paso Community College (EPCC) to fund scholarships for 15 students who start at EPCC and transfer to UTEP to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
“This S-STEM program builds on years of NSF support in the Paso del Norte region. In addition, the coordinated effort between UTEP and EPCC will help expand the talent pool needed to address critical national needs in data science and cybersecurity. We are delighted to be part of this collaboration that expands opportunities for highly motivated students in high-demand STEM areas,” stated Kenith Meissner, dean of the College of Engineering.
The grant was first awarded to UTEP in 2016. Salamah Salama, head of the computer science department and principal investigator on the project, said it is unusual for the S-STEM grant to be awarded to the same institution twice.
Of the 41 students who received scholarships under the first S-STEM grant, nearly all graduated with a bachelor’s degree, 40 attended conferences, 15 participated in research, and 15 pursued graduate studies. In addition, more than half of the program participants were women.
Influenced by best practices promoted by the Computing Alliance for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI), UTEP’s computer science department offers S-STEM grantees training and professional development opportunities that can boost their confidence and give them an edge in the job market.