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Dec. 6, 2000
 
TECHNICAL LABOR SHORTAGE PROMPTS NEW
SCHOLARSHIPS IN MATH, COMPUTER SCIENCE
OSWEGO -- A new scholarship program at Oswego State will concentrate on preparing a group of specially selected students to help meet the workplace demand for technically skilled employees. A $270,000 grant from the National Science Foundation funds the program.
About 40 Oswego juniors and seniors majoring in mathematics, computer science, information science or education with a math concentrate will receive scholarships of $3,125 each year for the next two years. They will be a combination of students who are now enrolled at Oswego and transfer students recruited from community colleges.
The program aims to increase the graduation rate and job placement rate for students in math and computer science who come from low-income families. It specifically targets students from underrepresented groups and students with disabilities. Scholarship recipients must have at least a 3.0 grade point average in their major and at least 2.75 overall.
"NSF got into this in order to address the labor shortage in these areas and to get economically disadvantaged people into the job market quickly," said Dr. Jack Narayan, who directs the program. He is dean of graduate studies and distinguished teaching professor of mathematics.
His co-directors are Dr. Rhonda Mandel, associate provost; Dr. Margaret Groman, chair of the math department; Mohammad Mohammadi, chair of the computer science department; and Rolando Arroyo-Sucre, director of the Office of Learning Services.
Of the $270,000 in the grant, $256,000 will go to the students in the form of scholarships.
"Many of our students for whom this grant would provide support currently work 20 or more hours per week," Mohammadi said. "Reduced external commitments will undoubtedly increase students' chances for success by enabling them to focus more on their studies."
But the program is much more than a financial boost for the selected students. Each scholarship recipient will have a faculty mentor from the math or computer science department as well as a student mentor.
The students in the program will all take a one-credit "college success" course tailored to their needs. Arroyo-Sucre, who has a background in engineering, will develop the one-credit seminar. "I will bring some of my background and experience into the class," he said.
The scholarship recipients will also be required to do either an independent research project or an internship that will prepare them to transition from college to the workplace.
Students and prospective students who meet the eligibility criteria will be invited to apply for the scholarships, Narayan said. They must write an essay and supply two letters of recommendation.
Noting that the computer science department has no trouble recruiting students -- its enrollment has nearly doubled in the past five years -- Groman said, "This is a really good opportunity to wave mathematics' flag and say, 'You can get good jobs in math, too.'"
The program is a one-shot grant on NSF's part, but Narayan said that Oswego State will try continue the program in some form after the grant expires.
"It just might be the shot in the arm that shows we're serious about math and science on this campus," Groman said.
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CONTACT: Dr. Jack Narayan, dean of graduate and distinguished teaching professor of mathematics, 341-3152

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