Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) announces the first recipients of its Girls Who Code Alumni Scholarships. These new undergraduate scholarships not only will go toward increasing diversity in the field of computer science, but are meant to encourage young women to pursue careers that will help our nation remain competitive in the global economy, and potentially address a critical national need for protection against cyber threats to our energy grids, military defense systems, water systems, refineries, and other areas.
The WPI/GWC Alumni Scholarship program was developed in partnership with Girls Who Code (GWC), a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in computer science through after-school and summer immersion programs. Each of the five students—hailing from California, Florida, Massachusetts, and New York—will receive annual scholarships of $20,000 for up to four years of undergraduate studies.
“Our world is transforming. Technology is about to change everything about the way we live and work, yet our girls continue to get left behind. We know that in order to get more women into technology fields, we need to create clear pathways for our participants to college and into the workforce,” said Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “I am so grateful for WPI’s commitment to helping the recipients of the WPI Girls Who Code Scholarship reach their full potential and be the next generation of female technologists leading this revolution.”
The program comes amid a push for more highly skilled workers in computer science. Last year there were more than 500,000 open computing jobs nationwide, but only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce. The demand for well-prepared information/cybersecurity talent is particularly intense; it has been projected that this field will experience 37% job growth between 2012 and 2022. What’s more, according to figures released in March 2017 by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women made up only 26 percent of the computing workforce in 2016.
This new scholarship is about making sure all the best minds are given the opportunity and encouragement to pursue computer science,” said WPI President Laurie Leshin. “Supporting women as they advance their studies is one way to build a more diverse pipeline while helping to close the skills gap in this critical field.”
Such important work often requires advanced degrees. To ensure that more students have an affordable and attractive pipeline to this career path, WPI has also teamed up with the National Science Foundation to offer their CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service to 25 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The scholarship provides full tuition, a generous stipend, academic fees, a book allowance, and funding for conference attendance. For each year of the scholarship—up to three years—students commit to taking summer internships and a year of postgraduation employment with the government in cybersecurity.
The five inaugural recipients of the WPI/GWC Alumni Scholarship are: Sreeshti Chuke of Arlington, Mass.; Sadie Dominguez of Oakland, Calif.; Nicole Kuberka of Chatsworth, Calif.; Michelle Santacreu of Tampa, Fla.; and Ella Torregrosa of Putnam Valley, N.Y. They will begin their studies at WPI on August 24, 2017.
More Information About the Scholarships:
- The WPI/GWC Alumni Scholarship is open to any young woman who is a GWC alumna and who has been accepted to a WPI undergraduate program. More information can be found here.
- CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service are funded by the National Science Foundation. More information is available at CyberCorps.