UMD Receives $425,000 for Scholarships and STEM Outreach from AFCEA Bethesda

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The University of Maryland announced today it received a five-year, $425,000 gift from the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Bethesda Chapter to support undergraduate student scholarships and an outreach program that encourages middle school students from underrepresented groups to explore computer science.

AFCEA Bethesda also contributed a total of $550,000 to four other local educational institutions to create a pathway for local elementary through high school students interested in pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By bringing together the Bullis School, Montgomery College, Montgomery County Public Schools, the Universities at Shady Grove and the University of Maryland, the organization hopes to create a comprehensive, structured pathway from primary to higher education and beyond, with a focus on young women and minority students.

“We are privileged to be working with such high caliber educational institutions as we fight to correct the representational disparity of women and minorities in the STEM field,” said Leslie Steele, President of AFCEA Bethesda. “AFCEA Bethesda will be eagerly following the promise of these young students as their talent and ambition will shape the next generation of government IT.”

The donation supports UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and A. James Clark School of Engineering.

“We are very excited to be partnering with four Washington-area educational institutions to leverage our combined expertise and resources to prepare local youth—from elementary school students to college students—for careers in STEM fields. The support from the AFCEA Bethesda Chapter will have a significant impact—from increased outreach to underrepresented populations across the region to providing scholarships to computer science and engineering undergraduates at the University of Maryland,” said Mary Ann Rankin, senior vice president and provost at UMD.

The funding supports 40 undergraduate scholarships in engineering and 20 in computer science at UMD over the next five years. Since 2008, AFCEA Bethesda has awarded more than $380,000 in scholarships to UMD students. An additional $30,000 in scholarships was donated earlier this year from the AFCEA Bethesda Chapter and the AFCEA Educational Foundation for graduate students in UMD’s College of Education preparing for careers as STEM teachers. The chapter’s gifts are inspired by its desire to help qualified students, many of whom could not pursue higher education without financial support, and to help produce greater numbers of young people competent in STEM fields, which are critical to global competitiveness and a healthy economy. Transfer students from Montgomery College and Montgomery County Public Schools students who complete an AP computer science or engineering exam will be given preference for the scholarships.

The donation also supports Computer Science Connect, a summer camp and monthly weekend school-year program for middle school students run by the Maryland Center for Women in Computing at UMD. This program is designed to catalyze a love of computing for students from underrepresented populations through hands-on, experiential learning activities. The curriculum reveals to students the interdisciplinary nature of computing and how it “connects” to a myriad of other fields. Through the three-year program, students gain solid programming experience, along with foundational algorithmic, cryptologic and mathematical skills, and an awareness of cybersecurity and safety. The program also provides an opportunity for female undergraduate students in computing-related majors to teach younger students about computing, while sharing their own excitement about and interest in the field.

Thanks to the strengthened collaboration of local educational institutions created by AFCEA Bethesda, K-12 organizations such as the Bullis School and Montgomery County Public Schools will be able to adapt and implement elements of the Computer Science Connect curriculum into their in-school, after-school and summer-school programs.

About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget, secures $500 million annually in external research funding and recently completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign. For more information about the University of Maryland, visit www.umd.edu.

About AFCEA Bethesda
AFCEA Bethesda Chapter, founded in 1998, is a non-profit organization that encourages greater government/industry partnerships and fosters networking among its peers. In 2004, the Chapter formed a Young AFCEAN group whose goal is to foster an environment where young professionals from the private and public sectors can meet, interact, and learn from each other. AFCEA Bethesda has earned the distinguished honor of being awarded “Model Chapter of the Year” by AFCEA International since 2000. For additional information please visit www.afceabethesda.org.

Contributed by Abby Robinson, CMNS

The Department welcomes comments, suggestions and corrections.  Send email to editor [at] cs [dot] umd [dot] edu.