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Oct. 8, 2003

CONTACT: Rameen Mohammadi, 312-2689


    OSWEGO -- The National Science Foundation judged SUNY Oswego's first effort through the foundation's scholarship program so successful that it has funded a second four-year version.

    Rameen Mohammadi, chair of the computer science department, recently learned that NSF had approved his group's proposal for a computer science and mathematics scholarship program, awarding the college a $396,000 grant.

    Ninety percent of the funds will go to juniors and seniors in computer science and math who demonstrate academic potential and financial need, he said. About 30 Oswego juniors and seniors majoring in mathematics, computer science, information science or education with a math concentrate will receive scholarships of $3,000 each year during the grant program.

    Oswego's proposal was among 220 proposals, only 65 of which were approved. "Your project is in a select group nationwide," wrote Elizabeth J. Teles, director of NSF's undergraduate education division.

    NSF's scholarship program aims at preparing students to meet the workplace demand for technically skilled employees. "The major goal is to increase the number of technologically educated students for technology-oriented professions in this country and to decrease our dependency on the workforce from outside," Mohammadi said.

    He noted that the federal scholarship program is funded by the $1,000 fee employers pay on each H1B visa when they hire from abroad.

    Mohammadi's co-directors for the program are Dr. Rhonda Mandel, associate provost; Dr. Jack Narayan, dean of graduate studies as well as distinguished teaching professor of mathematics; Dr. Margaret Groman, chair of the math department; and Rolando Arroyo-Sucre, director of the Office of Learning Services.

    The same team won a similar scholarship grant from NSF two years ago. Narayan headed up that project.

    "It was an extremely successful program for us," Mohammadi said, noting the absence of dropouts. "Part of the reason we got this one approved was the success of the first one."

    The scholarships allow students to focus on their studies instead of working to pay their bills, he said. "Computer science is a demanding field. You do need a lot of time. We expect students to work less" at part-time jobs, he said.

    New to the project is Oswego's commitment to fund scholarships out of institutional funds for six freshmen and six sophomores each year who will feed into the NSF-funded portion of the project.

    In addition to completing an application form, students interested in participating in the scholarship program must write an essay and supply two letters of recommendation to complete their application, which is evaluated by a committee.

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