University announces engineering and computing scholarship program
University of South Carolina officials announced a scholarship program Wednesday (Feb. 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 means 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.
After the freshman year, a student’s tuition will be covered if he or she maintains the 3.0 GPA required for the LIFE scholarship and continues to major in engineering or computing. The program is expected to provide about $5,400 in scholarships per student.
The initial $500,000 in support for ECELS is 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, an 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 S.C. House of Representatives and one of the strongest advocates of the LIFE scholarships.
Harrell called the university’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 and computing 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.
“Students also will have the opportunity to study and conduct research with top faculty throughout the college,” Amiridis said.
In 2007, the college hired Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, to lead its solid oxide fuel program. Drs. Melissa Moss in chemical engineering and Homayoun Valafar in computer science and engineering are recipients of National Science Foundation awards that support young faculty members who already have distinguished careers in teaching and research.
For more information about the university’s College of Engineering and Computing, visit http://www.engr.sc.edu.
Deepal Eliatamby is president and founder of Alliance Consulting Engineers Inc. in Columbia. He earned bachelor’s (1988) and master’s (1989) degrees in civil engineering from the University of South Carolina.
In 2006, Eliatamby was selected for the Liberty Fellowship, a statewide leadership program comprising 20 emerging leaders. As a Liberty fellow, Eliatamby recognized the opportunity to help the College of Engineering and Computing develop a scholarship program that would have an impact statewide. The Liberty Fellowship, directed by Hayne Hipp of Wofford College and the Aspen Institute, focuses on service to an individual’s community and state.
A native of Sri Lanka, Eliatamby enrolled at the university in 1984. He began his career in the Columbia office of B.P. Barber & Associates and was promoted to vice president and one of 16 principals of the company. The American Society of Civil Engineers selected him for the 1999 Edmund Friedman Young Civil Engineer National Award. In 2004, he established Alliance Consulting Engineers Inc., which has grown from a staff of six to 34 and had gross revenues of $5.5 million in 2007. He was named one of the “Top 20 Under 40 Business Leaders in the Midlands” by The State in 2004.
A registered professional engineer in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, Eliatamby is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the S.C. Economic Developers Association, the National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers, which named him a fellow in 2007.
Within the College of Engineering and Computing, Eliatamby is a member of the Industrial Advisory Board for civil engineering, the Partnership Board and the Dean’s Executive Council, for which he is a charter member of the 1894 Society. He has established a graduate fellowship in his name for the college. A past president of the university’s Richland-Lexington County Alumni Club, Eliatamby received the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award in 2003 for the College of Engineering and Computing.
Eliatamby is on the Board of Directors for the S.C. Chamber of Commerce and Engenuity South Carolina. He is a member of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the Chester Development Association, the Midlands Technical College Foundation, Columbia’s Opportunity Resource (COR) and SC Launch.
In 2007, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor recognized Eliatamby as a Palmetto Patriot for his contributions to the advancement of economic development in South Carolina.
Corporate Contributors to ECELS Scholarship Fund
Alliance Consulting Engineers Inc.
BP Barber & Associates
Eastman Chemical Co. (headquartered in Kingsport, Tenn.)
Delta Dental of South Carolina
Wilbur Smith Associates
Santee Cooper (Moncks Corner)
Mustang Engineering (Greenville)
Fujifilm Manufacturing USA Inc. (Greenwood)
Bert Storey Associates