ECRS Scholarships awarded for first time


The Appalachian Online

Tommy Culkin

Two Appalachian State University freshmen, Evangeline Luciano and Bryce Cloniger, are the first recipients of the ECRS Scholarship for Computer Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Cloniger and Luciano will receive $4,000 a year, and an extra $500 for educational and research materials. The scholarship is renewable based on the academic performance of the students.

“I love programming, and this is just such a great opportunity for my knowledge on computer science,” Luciano said. “It’ll really make me a better programmer.”

The ECRS Scholarship Program, which is in its inaugural year, will be offered to two incoming freshmen in the computer science department each year.

In addition to the monetary support, the scholarship also provides the students with a number of activities, such as mentoring programs, research projects, seminars to attend and internship opportunities.

See also: Coe and West Scholarships Awarded

“Financially, it’s really valuable, but the most important part is that it actually sets up mechanisms for the students to gain experience and extra opportunities,” Rahman Tashakkori, the director of the computer science department’s scholarships, said. “That is even more attractive, because from the first day they are part of a bigger community where they can work together with other students.”

The ECRS scholarship is not the only scholarship in the computer science department. The McKinney Innovation Scholarship and the S-STEM Scholarship are two others that the department offers. The recipients of the McKinney and S-STEM scholarships will work with the ECRS scholars on mentoring and research projects.

“We haven’t started the mentoring yet, but that’s probably the aspect I’m most excited about,” Cloniger said. “I know we’ll get mentoring from both older students and from professors.”

Another one of the activities provided for the scholars is weekly seminars.

“On Fridays, they bring in guest speakers to come and talk to us,” Luciano said. “It helps you learn, and it also lets you meet the other students in the program. It’s really nice being able to meet people who are just as interested in the subject as you are.”

Tashakkori said that Luciano and Cloniger were impressive in their scholarship applications.

“Each one of them brought something different to the table,” Tashakkori said. “Evangeline comes from a very strong math background. Bryce, on the other hand, is very good at thinking outside the box and coming up with innovative solutions.”

See also: SGA Tie-Dye Dash raises money for scholarships

The scholarship is being funded by a local automation company called ECR Software. James Wilkes, the computer science department chair, said the business was founded by a former Appalachian State student who recently decided to give back to the university by setting up a scholarship fund.

“ECR Software is helping us fund [the scholarship] locally, so instead of relying on federal and state grants and things like that, we have a public-private partnership where they are helping us continue some of the same work we’ve been doing, but funded through them,” Wilkes said. “They’re bootstraps entrepreneurs who built that company from the ground up, and have innovated and been successful as a business, and now they’re trying to foster that same sort of success in students.”

Tashakkori says the ultimate benefit of the ECRS Scholarship is the experience it provides the scholars with.

“These students do well in their courses, but they need the real world experience,” Tashakkori said. “That’s usually not possible in many cases, because students don’t get the chance to work on research projects or innovative projects. But the ECRS program gives these students that important ability.”

Story by Tommy Culkin, Senior News Reporter