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National Science Foundation Awards $400,000 Grant for Campus-Based Research Center

Shaw University will establish a campus-based research center dedicated to promoting the industrial and social benefits of computer science next month, funded in part by an award from the National Science Foundation, totaling nearly $400,000.

Officials expressed optimism about the three-year grant for the Shaw University Center for Computer Science Living, Learning, and Research awarded through the NSF's "HBCU UP" program and designed to foster stronger recruitment and retention strategies for undergraduate students majoring in STEM disciplines.

"This award is a significant investment in Shaw's growing emphasis on funded research and development," said Shaw President, Tashni Dubroy. "We are fully committed to creating opportunities for inspiration and innovation among our students in high-impact disciplines like computer science and other STEM fields.

Lloyd Williams, a principal investigator for the grant and assistant professor of computer science at Shaw, says that the grant will supplement current student internship relationships with agencies like NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security, along with pipelines to major tech development companies.

"We have pursued active relationships will a wide range of tech firms," Williams says. "One of our most supportive partners has been Google. Google has sent their engineers to Shaw to teach our students app development. This summer Google has hired me as a Faculty in Residency at their Mountain View headquarters.  I will be working with engineers there to help develop innovative strategies to teach programming that can then be deployed at Shaw and other schools.

Williams says that he expects the grant to impact prospects for nearly 100 students enrolled in its computer science program, with research and professional exposure to development in virtual reality, Artificial Intelligence, and robotics.

The center will be managed within Shaw's Division of Science and Technology.