Granting Agency: National Science Foundation
Award number: 1565099

  • Gary Krenz
  • Thomas Kaczmarek
  • Dennis Brylow
  • Marta Magiera
Award date: July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2021 (Estimated)
NSF programs: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

This National Science Foundation (NSF) Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) project at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin will recruit, retain, graduate, and enable career change for academically talented low-income students, with a focus on students who are new to the field of computer science. The program provides an accelerated Master of Science (MS) degree for individuals who do not have an undergraduate degree in computing, but who wish to cross over into the field. The program is based on a highly-focused summer program combined with an innovative curriculum that allows people without computer science degrees to merge quickly and efficiently into this professional MS in Computing degree program. Recruiting will focus on unemployed and under-employed individuals seeking a career change into computing and areas of high demand by employers. The project will provide the computing profession with a model for attracting and training students that seek to cross over from non-computer science degrees to work in computing. The project is based on a successful pilot program and will help to meet the need for highly skilled individuals in a fast-growing area of technology that has excellent employment prospects. Scholarships and support for low-income and academically talented students, who may not otherwise be able to obtain computer science degrees, will help to produce a well-trained workforce that will contribute to the economic well being of the nation.
The project combines a summer program with a variety of student support activities including a cohort experience, mentoring by faculty, peer mentoring, opportunities for internships, and career advising and professional development. A customized curriculum pathway provides a rapid transition into graduate studies for people who have no undergraduate degree in computing. Building on the results of a pilot program, the project will examine the effectiveness of the summer bridge program and other activities that are aimed at significantly reducing the time spent earning a career-changing graduate degree in computing. Areas of study will include scholars' perceptions about their ability to be successful in graduate studies, their beliefs whether their preparation is sufficient to support graduate study in computing, their beliefs about their own persistence to complete graduate study in computing, and their beliefs about their academic prospects. Controlling for prior computing study, the project will analyze the academic performance of students who participated in the summer bridge program and the accelerated MS curriculum and compare this to students following more traditional paths into the MS in computing degree program. The findings from the program will be disseminated widely to the STEM education community.

Link to NSF award abstract