BOONE, N.C. — For Appalachian State University computer science major Bryan Hill, of Summerfield, the Appalachian High Achievers in STEM scholarship program has created unexpected opportunities to engage with his department and prepare for his future career.
“In computer science, there is so much room for creativity in what problem you want to solve and how you want to solve it,” Hill said.
The scholarship program, funded by a National Science Foundation S-STEM grant, offers students weekly seminars, research projects, study groups, mentoring, tutoring, leadership workshops and community building, among other benefits. The program aims to attract academically talented students with financial need to major in STEM-related disciplines, including applied mathematics, chemistry, computer science, geology and physics.
Hill, a sophomore computer science major, said the STEM scholarship program has been his most beneficial experience at Appalachian. “I attend a STEM seminar once a week where I am exposed to internship opportunities, research opportunities and a very welcoming community of students also in the program,” he said.
As part of his scholarship, Hill participates in semesterlong collaborative research projects. His projects have included creating a website that allows users to search for songs based on beats-per-minute and developing a tutorial website for the game engine known as Unreal Engine.
Hill is interested in earning a master’s degree in computer science at Appalachian through the university’s Accelerated Admission program, which allows enrolled undergraduate students to earn a master’s degree in as little as one additional year. Ultimately, he would like to work as a software engineer.
The opportunities afforded by Hill’s STEM scholarship have empowered him to be engaged in all aspects of the university.
“My relationship with the faculty in the program has been amazing,” Hill said. “During my first semester at Appalachian, I was feeling overwhelmed, but the professors in the computer science department made the transition a lot less stressful. The class sizes are relatively small, so I felt comfortable asking for help or going to office hours.
“By the end of the semester, I had developed a close relationship with my professors and would consider them mentors,” Hill continued. “I feel comfortable asking them about research opportunities, letters of recommendation and internships.”
Hill is a member of Appalachian’s Spirit and Traditions Council, one of seven councils in the Appalachian Popular Programming Society (APPS). The council aims to create a sense of community among students. He also meets weekly with fellow students to practice solving algorithmic problems in computer science, under the guidance of assistant professor Dr. Raghuveer Mohan.
Notably, last year, as part of Appalachian’s club swim team, he qualified for the Club Swimming National Championships held at Ohio State University.
What do you think?
Share your feedback on this story.
About the Department of Computer Science
Appalachian’s Department of Computer Science provides a rigorous, high-quality education that prepares students for the computing industry or graduate education. It offers a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, which is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, and a Master of Science degree in computer science. Learn more at https://compsci.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.