With funding from the National Science Foundation's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program, the "NSF S-STEM Scholarship Program: Growing the Regional Computer Science Workforce" is providing support to low-income students with demonstrated financial need and academic promise to succeed in STEM disciplines at Middle Tennessee State University. The project is funding 100 scholarships over 5 years for students who are pursuing bachelor's degrees in Computer Science. A pipeline of activities will be employed to recruit and retain academically talented students, improve academic performance, inspire exploration of the CS discipline, instill CS career knowledge at an early stage, encourage and provide help to land CS related internships, and hire students with professional experiences as mentors for lower level students.
This project will study the impact of a proposed new peer-mentoring program, which will leverage the group of CS majors who work in the computing field as mentors for lower level CS majors. Research will focus on the impact of this unique mentoring experience, which seeks to engage younger students in networking and career building activities, primarily through job shadowing and internships, providing real-world insight for the younger students and stronger departmental connections for the working students. Scholarship recipients will be provided a rich set of academic and non-academic services to support their retention in CS. Additionally, the project will focus on two problems identified by local analytics: (1) the low number and percentage of female and other underrepresented minority (URM) CS majors, and (2) the poor retention of lower level students, especially female and other UMR CS majors. The overall success and impact of the program will be measured based on enrollment and retention in the department.