Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities member institutions will receive $1.5 million grant each from the National Science Foundation. Each institution will fund student scholarships aimed at increasing the number of graduates in computer and information technology fields of study. The scholarships are part of a $5 million, five-year grant awarded to Florida International, the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida in support of the collaborative Florida IT Pathways to Success project. The goals of the project will build on an existing The Targeted Educational Attainment (TEAm) grant from the Florida Board of Governors and will be devoted primarily to scholarships for students pursuing IT-related disciplines.

“This grant will support our commitment to  students at risk of dropping out of college when they are within striking distance of graduation,” said Mark Weiss, associate director for academic affairs at the School of Computing and Information Sciences within the FIU College of Engineering and Computing. According to Ken Christensen, professor and interim chair in the USF Department of Computer Science and Engineering “This grant will allow us to support academically strong students with financial need. ”  USF plans to distribute a mix of small and large annual scholarships which could prove to support a mix of students.

Collectively, member institutions serve about half of the students and produce about 65 percent of the IT graduates in the State University System.  Ultimately, funds from the NSF  grant will support each institution’s ongoing efforts to align degrees with the state’s workforce needs. Nationally, computer science and related majors have been positioned as an emerging critical discipline for students in the U.S. According to President Obama’s initiative Computer Science For All, last year there were more than 600,000 high-paying tech jobs in the U.S. and not enough people to fill them.

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