Ohio puts $20 million behind new computer science scholarships

More than 20 million dollars in new scholarship money for computer science programs is now available to 35 Ohio schools.

Inside the Kettering Laboratories Building at the University of Dayton campus Thursday, local leaders and presidents from colleges and universities around the state gathered as Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner announced a new Choose Ohio First scholarship. The goal of the new scholarship is to boost Ohio’s efforts to strengthen the state’s workforce in technology related fields such as computer science fields like coding and cyber security, while supporting an estimated 1,400 Ohio students.

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Included among other Ohio schools, University of Dayton received nearly $3 million in scholarship money, Wright State University received nearly $1 million, Sinclair Community College received almost $300,000. Central State University also received $207,000.

Created by Husted in 2008 while serving as Speaker of the House, Choose Ohio First scholarship program is a state-funded program with the goal of helping Ohio schools graduate more students in science technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. The scholarship takes special aim at computer science related programs. The new scholarship, funded with an additional $20 million, is just for computer science and launches this year.

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“At that time I remember walking around the Statehouse having to explain to people what STEM education was,” Husted said. “I tried at that time to explain how important it was going to be to the future of Ohio’s economy. … Rather than just saying this that we’re going to grant these in any STEM discipline, we requested $20 million more in the budget. These were grants that each university or college had to say, this is what they’ll do with it (and) design a program around it try to drive those outcomes. We think it will add as many as a couple thousand computer science grads. We certainly need them.”

Current graduating high school seniors entering college for the 2020 - 2021 academic year will be the first group able to apply for the new scholarship. The total scholarship amount of $20,580,770 will be awarded over the next five years.

“We at the University of Dayton are honored and pleased to host today’s celebration and being involved in ensuring Ohio graduates the best prepared and most diverse computer scientists and other IT professionals and retains them in this great state,” University of Dayton President Eric Spina, said.

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Husted cited a recent IBM study that stated within three years, globally, 120 million people’s job skills will no longer be adequate for the jobs they presently have because how quickly technology is changing their work.

“If these statistics do not create a call to action in your hearts and minds, I don’t know what else will,” Husted said. “Because you definitely see, if we want to be competitive economically, that we have to have the talent. There are around 156,000 open jobs posted right now on Ohio Means Jobs. There are 9,000 of them that show up if you type in ‘computer science’.

Students interested in pursuing high education in computer science should visit ohiohighered.org to see what institutions offer the new scholarship.

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