RICHARDSON , Texas (Aug. 26, 2004) – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) $385,000 to provide scholarships for talented, financially needy students studying software engineering (SE) and computer science (CS) to help alleviate a national shortage of high-tech workers.
The grant, which is effective Sept. 1 and expires four years later, will fund 28 scholarships, with matching funding by the Jonsson School providing another seven – for a total of 35 scholarships.
“The demand for highly trained software engineers and computer scientists far exceeds the supply,” said Dr. Kang Zhang, associate professor in the Jonsson School’s Department of Computer Science and primary investigator of the NSF-funded project. “The goal of the program is to recruit talented and financially needy students into our SE programs and produce highly skilled professionals who can join the industrial workforce or proceed to higher degrees in the field.”
Software engineers are responsible for designing and programming large-scale computer systems and applications.
According to Dr. Bob Helms, dean of the Jonsson School, UTD is “highly qualified to help fill the nation’s critical need for high-technology workers vital to the national economy.” The school has long offered an M.S. degree in SE. Three years ago, it instituted one of the nation’s first B.S. degrees in the field, and it recently started an SE doctoral degree program.
In addition, Helms said, more than a quarter of the university’s computer science faculty specializes in SE and related areas.
Zhang said that he and his UTD colleagues will engage in joint recruitment efforts with community college districts in both Dallas County and Collin County to identify potential scholarship applicants, including those from under-represented groups – an effort he termed “a cornerstone” of the project.
UTD will begin awarding the scholarships, primarily to undergraduate students, in the spring of 2005. Students who qualify will receive up to $3,125 a year and may renew the scholarship each year for up to four years, based on academic performance.
UTD’s Computer Science Department will implement a rigorous process to select and retain SE scholarship students, according to Dr. Gopal Gupta, a co-principle investigator on the project. It will include a full range of supporting services, assessment and evaluation procedures and opportunities for industrial internships.
“We believe that these new scholarships will help promote and strengthen UTD’s SE and CS programs, making them a model to be emulated nationally,” Gupta said.
Assisting Zhang and Gupta on the NSF project are a number of their colleagues from the Jonsson School – Dr. D. T. Huynh, Dr. Simeon Ntafos and Dr. Sook Kim, among others.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls about 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.