RIT Receives Grant to Address Shortage of Computing Professionals




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Microsoft chairman Bill Gates described it as a “pipeline problem” more than a year ago—getting more young Americans interested in technology careers, like computing, where there are too few workers to meet the demand coming from industry.

In response to this need and the national trend of declining college enrollments in computing disciplines, Rochester Institute of Technology has established a Computing Undergraduates Scholarship Program, made possible by a $484,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

“Our goal is to draw in students who may not have thought about RIT,” says Trudy Howles, professor of computer science and principal investigator for the NSF grant. “We want to make the computing fields and RIT more accessible.”

A main initiative of the program is to expand the student body within the computing disciplines, especially among students in underrepresented groups. The program focuses on identifying talented students who wish to enroll in a B.S. program at RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, but require financial assistance.

Throughout the five-year grant, up to 72 students within the Computing Undergraduates Scholarship Program will receive scholarship support during their first two years at RIT. This assistance will bridge students to the point when they begin co-operative education experiences. Co-op positions within the field of computing offer competitive wages that can further subsidize the costs of an education at RIT.

“We are pleased the National Science Foundation is supporting our scholarship program,” says Jorge Díaz-Herrera, dean of the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. “This is just one component in our strategic plan to conduct outreach to students of all ages and backgrounds interested in computing. The U. S. Department of Commerce projects the number of jobs available in the computing field by 2012 will be three times greater than the number of graduates. This grant money will assist us in our enrollment efforts as we continue to produce some of the best and the brightest students entering the computing industry.”

NOTE: RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, the largest comprehensive computing college in the nation, was created in 2001 with a gift from B. Thomas Golisano, founder and chairman of Paychex Inc.

The Golisano College offers a Ph.D. program in computing and information sciences. At the graduate level, programs are offered in computer science, information technology, software development and management, computer security and information assurance, learning and knowledge management systems, networking and system administration, game design and development, and software engineering. At the undergraduate level, degree programs are offered in computer science, information technology, applied network and system administration, software engineering, new media and medical informatics.

The college is home to the Center for Advancing the Study of Cyberinfrastructure which partners with industry and other research organizations in the advancement of computing technology in support of scientific discovery and product development, and to foster technology commercialization.

Founded in 1829, RIT is internationally recognized as a leader in computing, engineering, imaging technology, fine and applied arts, and education for the deaf. RIT enrolls more than 15,500 students in more than 340 undergraduate and graduate programs.