ECR Software Corporation (ECRS), a locally owned business in Boone, has announced the establishment of a Computer Science High Achievers Scholarship for students in the Department of Computer Science at Appalachian State University.

The new scholarship program will provide collaborative mentoring and research opportunities to students pursuing computer science degrees who have expressed an interest in the development of innovative and/or entrepreneurial ideas.

“ECRS has consistently supported our students and the university. This is a great example of their leadership in our community that helps our students grow to serve the region,” said Dr. Rahman Tashakkori, chair of the Department of Computer Science and the Lowe’s Distinguished Professor of Computer Science.

“The ECRS scholarships will provide an opportunity to computer science students to experience mentoring and collaborative learning as they work with their peers in other programs.”

Over the next four years, ECRS will award a total of $176,000 in scholarship support to eight computer science undergraduates and two graduate students in the department. The first cohort will join the current seven ECRS Computer Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship scholars in fall 2019.

Accepted incoming first-year recipients will receive a $4,000 scholarship per year for four years upon meeting the program requirements, and the accepted incoming graduate students will each receive a $12,000 fellowship in their first and second years of study.

All recipients will have opportunities to collaborate and share research with each other, as well as work closely with department faculty members and report on their research during Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) seminars at Appalachian, in which Appalachian’s interdisciplinary cohort of S-STEM scholars also participates.

The ECRS scholars may also have the opportunity to participate in internships and part-time or full-time employment provided by ECRS and other technology-related companies.

In addition, the graduate fellows will each work with a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and a mentor at ECRS to conduct both general and specific research, such as computer vision and machine learning.

Over the past several years, ECRS has worked closely with faculty and students in the Department of Computer Science at Appalachian on various research projects, student programs, scholarship opportunities and other activities.

In 2016, the company donated a computer with a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) that allowed students to solve highly parallelizable problems in a hands-on course around computer architecture, and in fall 2018, Appalachian partnered with ECRS to create a mutually beneficial training program designed for students in its Scholarship with Diverse Abilities Program (SDAP).

ECRS employs many graduates from Appalachian’s computer science program in its development, distribution and support of world-class retail automation systems.

Article and photo by Ellen Gwin Burnette, courtesy of Appalachian State University