CORVALLIS - The number of scholarships available to new freshman in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University has almost tripled in just the past year as educators make a push to attract the brightest young students in the state to careers in engineering.

The approach seems to be working, said Ronald Adams, dean of the college.

"We've made a huge step forward this year and it's clear that more of Oregon's best students are choosing to become engineers and attend OSU," Adams said. "Our goal is not only for students to see OSU as by far their best choice for an engineering education, but also to increase interest in talented students who may not yet have considered an engineering career."

The Oregon University System recently announced 18 recipients of the prestigious Intel Engineering Scholarships, which provides $2,500 a year for four years and are designed to boost interest in careers in engineering or computer science. This represents the largest industry scholarship in engineering. Of those 18 scholarship recipients, 15 plan to attend OSU, two chose Portland State University and one the University of Oregon.

Another major step forward, Adams said, has been the creation this academic year of Dean's Scholarships in the OSU College of Engineering. These awards provide $1,000 or $2,000 per year for two years for freshman students, and $5,000 per year for four years for National Merit finalists. Such awards are directed towards students with very strong high school grade point averages and SAT scores.

This year, the college is offering 194 freshman scholarships worth more than $550,000 made possible by a private donation from the Eric R. Smith Fund. Other high levels awards from OSU to new engineering students, Adams said, have also increased dramatically in recent years. Overall, 390 engineering applicants will be offered university scholarships in addition to those offered by the College of Engineering.

"At this point we have outstanding support for our very top students," Adams said. "We'd still like to do more for those in the middle ranks of the college, and that's where we'll be putting some of our emphasis in the future."

OSU has the most comprehensive programs of engineering in the state of Oregon, in its departments of Bioresource Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering; Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Nuclear Engineering; and Radiation Health Sciences.

OSU engineering graduates routinely score among the top universities in the nation on standardized national examinations on the fundamentals of engineering, even leading many Ivy League schools. And the university's Multiple Engineering Cooperative Program, or MECOP, has been studied by the state of Oregon and nationally as a model for effective, in-depth internships that often result in an unusual level of real-world working experience and near 100 percent employment rates for graduates of the program.

Enhancement of both the quantity and quality of engineering graduates in Oregon is a high priority for the state and the Oregon University System, Adams said. The high technology industry upon which much of the state's economic future rests depends upon a steady and increasing supply of highly talented - and highly paid - engineers.

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Ronald Adams, 541-737-3101