The grant is designed to remove financial barriers and increase the number of graduates in STEM fields
TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 28, 2016) – The University of South Florida will receive nearly $1.5 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), with the goal of increasing the number of graduates in the key IT-related disciplines of computer science, computer engineering and information technology.
The funding will provide students with scholarships, helping remove the financial barriers to student success.
The University of Central Florida and Florida International University will also each receive nearly $1.5 million each from NSF. The scholarships are part of a five-year, $5 million grant awarded to USF, UCF, and FIU in support of the collaborative Florida IT Pathways to Success project. FIU was the lead partner in the grant and will be responsible for project administration and reporting.
The goals of the project, which build on a previously awarded TEAm Grant from the Florida Board of Governors, include recruiting, retaining, and providing scholarships and other support to academically talented students in IT-related disciplines. Located in Florida’s three largest metropolitan areas, the three institutions comprise the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities. Collectively these universities serve about half of the students in the State University System and produce about 65 percent of the IT-related graduates.
Historically, science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM – degrees take longer to finish than other majors. In some cases, students run out of financial aid before they are able to graduate. With this in mind, some of the scholarships are aimed at preventing students who are close to completing their degrees from being derailed by financial pressures.
“This grant will allow us to support academically strong students with financial need. We expect to support 36 students for about $20,000 each for four years and 115 students for about $2,400 each for their senior year,” said the principal investigator of the grant, Ken Christensen, professor and interim chair in the USF Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Computer science and engineering professor Rafael Perez is co-PI.
Funds from the grant will support each institution’s ongoing efforts to align degrees with the state’s workforce needs. Computer science and related majors have been positioned as an emerging critical discipline for students in the U.S. According to President Obama’s initiative Computer Science For All, last year there were more than 600,000 high-paying tech jobs in the U.S. and not enough people to fill them. By 2018, it’s projected that 51 percent of all STEM jobs will be in computer science-related fields.
STEM is an important part of USF’s contribution to workforce preparation, innovation and research for Florida and the nation. During the last academic year the College of Engineering graduated 175 students with a degree in computer science, computer engineering or information technology.
The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 25 research university among public institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving over 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.