To encourage a more diverse community in computer science education and research, the Center for Networked Systems (CNS) at the University of California, San Diego is establishing the Alan Turing Memorial Scholarship in partnership with private donors. The scholarship will be awarded annually to an enrolled undergraduate computer-science or computer-engineering major in UC San Diego’s Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) department. CNS is an interdisciplinary computer science research center.
A mathematician, cryptanalyst and founder of the field of computer science, Alan Turing is also widely considered the father of artificial intelligence. He was credited with accelerating the Allied victory in World War II by more than a year after Turing devised the techniques that led to breaking codes produced by Germany’s Enigma machine. After the war, Turing was persecuted for being gay. He died by his own hand in 1954.
“Alan Turing is a giant in the pantheon of computer science pioneers and his story is both tragic and inspirational,” said CSE professor George Porter, associate director of CNS. “Our center wants to engage, support and recognize diverse communities in line with UC San Diego’s strategic plan, and naming the scholarship after Turing affirms our belief in the importance and future contributions that LGBT-supportive students will make to computer science and engineering.”
“Computer science pervades everything that we do in the world so it has a huge societal impact,” said David Hutches, a CSE alumnus (PhD ’98) and director of the office of engineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering. “The benefit of this scholarship is that it makes computer science and engineering more diverse, more inclusive and more accepting.”
The scholarship award will be for one year for up to $10,000. Recipients must be majors in computer science or computer engineering and be active supporters of the LGBT community. The scholarship will go to a student based on academic merit, and preference will be given to students with demonstrated financial need. The first recipient of the scholarship will be awarded for the upcoming 2015-16 academic year. CNS initiated the scholarship with gifts from the Center’s annual giving fund.
Today CNS launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise more money for the scholarship fund on the Crowdsurf platform established recently by UC San Diego for student and campus projects.
“We decided to launch on Crowdsurf to invite participation by philanthropic partners who share the university’s desire to recognize the achievements of students from diverse backgrounds and orientations,” noted CNS’s Porter. “The campaign also gives supporters a way to invest in cutting-edge research in computer science with donations of any amount.”
The initial goal set for the Crowdsurf campaign is $42,400, of which 25 percent ($10,600) is coming from the CNS annual giving fund, which is also matching a further $1 for every $2 contributed by other donors until the $42,400 total is reached. Donations via Crowdsurf are tax deductible.
Money raised in the campaign could be converted into an endowment if the scholarship fund’s cash balance reaches $50,000 by June 30, 2020, in which case CNS has a long-term goal of raising a $250,000 endowment for the Turing Scholarship.
“This will be one of the largest scholarships for LGBT students at UC San Diego,” said Shaun Travers, director of the LGBT Resource Center on campus. “At $10,000 per year, that’s a huge impact [for a student].”
Computer science major Helena Qin agrees: “I think it’s really important to apply and support the scholarship so students can feel welcome not only on campus but also in the computer-science community at large, so they can go off and change the world.”