Comp. Science grant funds scholarships

Mary Russell

Students with an interest in a Computer Sciences major will now be eligible for one of 29 scholarships made available by a recent grant to the Department of Computing Sciences from the National Science Foundation. The University was one of 20 in the nation to be awarded this grant, which was created to increase the number and diversity of Computer Science majors.

The National Science Foundation based its acceptance on the “intellectual merit and broader impact” of the applicants.

At Villanova, the grants are being divided into $3,215 scholarships for up to 29 students.

The program, titled the Villanova Computer Scholars program, or ViCS, is available to incoming freshman and current students up until their junior year.

Although students from outside the major are welcome to apply, those accepted must declare a Computer Sciences major. The scholarship can be used in addition to any existing financial aid.

This grant program was mandated by Congress for the National Science Foundation when recent statistics showed that the nation would require more than double the number of current computer science employees in the upcoming years.

The low number of employees is due to the weak post 9/11 economy and outsourcing; fewer students majoring in the field also reflected this trend.

According to the department chair of Computing Sciences Robert Beck, the Department of Computing Sciences graduated 40 students in 2003 and will graduate 45 in 2004.

Of this year’s graduating class, six of the students are women, including the top student.

Beck notes that these have been peak years, in response to the increased popularity of the field, but expects upcoming graduating classes to be smaller.

Frank Klassner, a member of the management committee of ViCS, notes that this grant is great for those “looking to merge computer work with their other work.”

The grant will also help to supplement classroom learning with field trips, as well as other experiences.

The ViCS program adds to the many opportunities already in place such as the study abroad program in connection with the Vatican’s website, which has been in place for the past three semesters.