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Mikayla Sage and Cameron Small are winners of Appalachian’s 2016 ECRS Computer Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship scholarships

By University Communications

BOONE—Mikayla Sage of Maiden and Cameron Small of Apex have been awarded the 2016 ECRS Computer Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship scholarships by the Department of Computer Science at Appalachian State University.

View larger imageMikayla Sage and Cameron Small have been awarded the 2016 ECRS Computer Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship scholarships by the Department of Computer Science at Appalachian State University. Photo by Rahman Tashakkori

Both Sage and Small are first-year computer science majors. Each receives a $4,000 per year scholarship in addition to $500 each year for materials such as software or a computer application for research, which the ECRS scholarship promotes. The scholarship renews during each of the recipients’ four years of undergraduate study if they shoulder a course load averaging 15 hours per semester, demonstrate academic progress in recommended course work and maintain a minimum 3.0 overall GPA.

The ECRS scholarship program is underwritten entirely by ECRS, a software corporation in Boone that began providing funding for two students each year in 2015. It “presents a great educational and experiential learning opportunity for our students and an opportunity for the Department of Computer Science and ECRS to partner in a tangible way to address the high demand for skilled computing professionals,” said Dr. James Wilkes, who chairs Appalachian’s Department of Computer Science.

“These recipients benefit not only from the financial assistance of the scholarship, but, even more importantly, from the experiences and skills and maturity gained through the activities of the program, including innovative research projects with students and faculty and internships at ECRS.”

The recipients of the ECRS scholarship are also mentored by upper-level computer science students in a program called Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM), which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

“Starting next year, we expect the first cohort of ECRS scholars to serve as peer-mentors when they are in their junior year,” said Dr. Rahman Tashakkori, the director of the Department of Computer Science’s S-STEM program.

Other highlights of the ECRS program include seminars and workshops on topics such as effective team building, trust building among team members, conflict resolution, time management and the assessment of priorities. There are also workshops on resume writing, job searches and internship opportunities at ECRS.

The ECRS scholarship is becoming increasingly competitive. This year, 11 students vied for the two scholarships. Tashakkori called the ECRS scholarship “an exceptional opportunity” not only for students interested in pursuing degrees in computer science but also for those interested in developing “innovative and/or entrepreneurial ideas.”

“We are very grateful for this support provided by one of the IT leaders in our community,” he said. “These ECRS scholars will be part of mentoring efforts that have provided role models to all students.”

Both Sage and Small echoed this sentiment.

“Being able to join in on seminars, study groups, leadership workshops and internship opportunities (will) broaden my academic studies, better my understanding of the major, and help guide me toward the career path best suited for me,” said Sage, a 2015 graduate of Maiden High School. “This program offers me the opportunity to collaborate with others while strengthening my computer science skills. I will definitely take advantage of these wonderful opportunities.”

Added Small, a 2016 graduate of Apex High School: “I am very excited for four years with the computer science department as well as a chance to have the opportunity provided by this scholarship.”

For more information on the ECRS scholarship, see

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.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational 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 embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low faculty-to-student ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.