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Unfortunately, at the same time there has been a national decrease in students graduating with computing degrees.

In order to satisfy the increasing demand for employable computing professionals, and to combat declining undergraduate enrollment in computing disciplines, the Computing Undergraduates Scholarship Program (CUSP) was established at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2006.

Led by Trudy Howles, associate professor of computer science, and Tom Reichlmayr, associate professor of software engineering, the program provided scholarship opportunities to financially eligible students, especially those from underrepresented groups, who demonstrated academic talent. Funded through the National Science Foundation, CUSP provided two-year scholarships to students enrolling in computing programs offered through RIT's B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS).

"All students cited the scholarship as having an impact on their ability to continue in school," notes Reichlmayr. "In addition to financial assistance, the students also identified the importance of practicing good time management skills and maintaining grades in order to participate in the program."

Seventy-two students received scholarship assistance through CUSP and the first cohort of scholars graduated from RIT in 2010. Howles is seeking funding to offer broader programming that will incorporate additional scholarship support and outreach efforts to middle and high school students.

"CUSP has helped make RIT more financially accessiblef to talented students and helped enable GCCIS to continue to produce some of the most well-prepared computing professionals in the industry," adds Andrew Sears, dean of GCCIS.