National Science Foundation awards USF $1.5 million to aid students in tech fields
TAMPA — There are more jobs open in the technology field than qualified workers to fill them.
But the pathway to a STEM degree isn’t always seamless. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees often take longer to finish, and some students run out of financial aid before they ever get to toss their cap into the air.
The National Science Foundation wants to remove those financial barriers and boost the number of STEM students who make it to graduation.
That’s why it’s giving the University of South Florida nearly $1.5 million dollars in grant funding to support strong students in technology-related programs who demonstrate 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.
The grant will fund students in the IT-related disciplines of computer science, computer engineering and information technology. Some of the money will be specifically geared toward making sure students who are close to graduation don’t get derailed because of finances.
Similar grants will go to the University of Central Florida and Florida International University. Together, USF, UCF and FIU produce about 65 percent of the state’s IT-related graduates.
Scholarships for their students support the Florida IT Pathways to Success project, which aims to graduate students in tech fields who will go on to fill workforce needs in the state.
The IT-specific approach is especially relevant considering that, by 2018, more than half of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science.