A major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will provide scholarships to encourage students to study computer science, engineering or mathematics at Hope College.

"Our goal is to attract more students to these three disciplines," said Dr. Herbert Dershem, who is a professor of computer science at Hope and the grant's administrator. "We're especially interested in encouraging enrollment among members of minority groups and women, who are traditionally underrepresented in these fields nationally."

The grant will provide support for prospective students who enroll at the college and current students who commit to one of the programs.

The "recruitment scholarships" will be granted to 12 incoming freshmen in each of two years, starting in the fall of 2005. The "retention scholarships" will be granted to six currently enrolled students for each of two years, starting as soon as the spring of 2005. Based on their eligibility, including continued progress toward one of the target majors and demonstrated financial need, the recipients will hold their scholarships through their fourth year of undergraduate study.

Each scholarship will be for a maximum of $3,125 per year, as much as is allowed by the NSF program that has awarded the funding, according to Dershem. The grant itself totals $398,040.

In keeping with the Hope program's focus on enhancing representation, recruiting activities will emphasize high schools in western Michigan that have high minority enrollments. The retention scholarship recipients will be identified from among students enrolled in the college's introductory courses in computer science, engineering and mathematics. All of the scholarship applicants and nominees will be interviewed personally.

Additional activities are also being developed in anticipation of the recruited students, including a First-Year Seminar that Dershem will teach emphasizing problem-solving using the three fields, peer mentoring by other students in the departments and events for all of the students in the scholarship program.