February 6, 2008
College of Engineering and Computing and state of South Carolina officials announced a scholarship program on Wednesday, February 6 that will cover the difference between tuition costs and LIFE scholarships for in-state freshmen majoring in engineering and computing.
The new Engineering and Computing Expanded Life Scholarship (ECELS) program will mean that a minimum of 100 freshmen who also have LIFE scholarships can attend the university tuition-free beginning in fall 2008, said Dr. Michael Amiridis, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing.
An initial $500,000 in support for ECELS has been given through gifts from individual donors, businesses, industries and the College of Engineering and Computing, Amiridis said.
“At a time when our state and nation face an alarming shortage of engineers and computing professionals, this program will enable us to recruit the state’s best and brightest students into a career field that offers lucrative job opportunities,” he said.
“Business and industry look to universities to educate the engineers and computer scientists who are needed for today’s workforce and the workforce of the future. Clearly, we have an obligation to meet their needs and to meet the concerns of students who don’t want to leave college in debt,” Amiridis said. “It is our goal to make education accessible and affordable to more students, and this program is a major step in that direction.”
Deepal Eliatamby, a two-degreed alumnus of the college and a leader in the effort to fund the ECELS program, said his education gave him the tools and foundation to lead a productive life and make a difference in his community.
"This scholarship program is a continuation of what has been done for me," said Eliatamby, who came to the university in 1984 from Sri Lanka, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and established Alliance Consulting Engineers Inc., a successful engineering firm in Columbia that employs 34 people. "Students who earn their engineering and computing degrees in South Carolina are more apt to stay here and help our state grow," he said.
The "brain drain" of bright young people from South Carolina has been a major concern for Rep. Bobby Harrell, Speaker of the SC House of Representatives and one of the strongest advocates of the LIFE scholarships.
Harrell called the college’s plan to bridge the gap in tuition an innovative approach to solving the tuition concerns that many of the state’s parents and students have.
"To successfully build a knowledge-based economy in our state, we need the best and brightest driving our workforce," Harrell said. "This plan builds on the scholarship enhancements for South Carolina students majoring in math, science and engineering that the General Assembly passed last year. The University of South Carolina’s innovative public-private approach to education is preparing our state to become a leader in tomorrow’s economy."
The scholarship announcement is in step with the college’s goal to increase its undergraduate enrollment by 30 percent to more than 1,630 students, including women and minorities, by 2010. The fall 2007 undergraduate enrollment for engineering was 1,341, up more than 9 percent from 2006 when "The New Face of Engineering and Computing" campaign was launched by the college to boost undergraduate enrollment. More than 83 percent of engineering and computing undergraduates are from South Carolina.
The state of South Carolina awards a LIFE scholarship to South Carolina residents graduating from a South Carolina high school who are full-time undergraduates seeking their first baccalaureate degree. Students must also have a 3.00 final high school GPA, a minimum SAT test score of 1100 or ACT test score of 24 and/or graduated in the top 30 percent of their high school graduating class.
The LIFE scholarship does not entirely cover the costs of tuition. The ECELS program was created in recognition of that shortage.
A minimum of 100 ECELS will be given out over the next two years to students who are currently high school juniors or seniors in the state of South Carolina.
ECELS will completely cover the gap between the actual cost of tuition and the amount awarded for the LIFE scholarship — regardless of any possible future tuition increases. This will enable awardees of the ECELS scholarship to receive their four-year degree completely free of charge as long as they maintain their LIFE scholarship eligibility and remain an engineering or computing major.
ECELS program donors and/or corporate partners making a gift of $5,000 or more are able to have their scholarship donation named for themselves, a loved one, their company, or a former professor and have the ability to restrict their scholarship(s) to any of the college’s departments. The logos shown on this page represent the companies who are corporate partners of the ECELS program as of February 6’s announcement.
For more information on the LIFE and/or ECELS scholarships, please call the College of Engineering and Computing’s Student Services office at (803) 777-4177.
For more information on how you can give a gift to the College or become a corporate partner, please contact the College’s Alumni and Development office at (803) 777-0774.