National Science Foundation awards $2.5M Lifelong Learning Grant to support Georgia Southern computer science and IT departments, 161 scholarships

SAVANNAH, Ga., August 22, 2023 — The National Science Foundation announced a $2.5 million award supporting Georgia Southern University researchers in addressing high-demand workforce needs in information technology and computer science fields.
The funded project, “Enabling Lifelong Success in an Information Technology Workforce,” adapts and evaluates evidence-based student support activities within the IT Department, one of the units in the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing. The goal of the project is to identify a group of highly qualified students and to render 161 scholarships over a six-year period in an effort to increase student retention and graduation rates.

“This is great news for the IT program at Georgia Southern, and it will provide a positive impact to the surrounding area as businesses’ needs for IT professionals increase,” said interim Vice President of Research and Economic Development Chris Curtis, Ph.D.

Georgia Southern Professor and Department of Information Technology Chair Yiming Ji, Ph.D., is taking the lead on the grant, which, he noted, has the potential to have a profound impact on students.

“This project will train a pool of talented students, especially those with financial needs, and prepare them for successful careers in IT,” said Ji. “With scholarships from the grant, students will have time to focus on studying, instead of having to work to make ends meet. These students will also receive dedicated support, including academic advising, research opportunities, internship and career service and much more. The result is that these students will become confident and have a greater future in IT careers.”

The project involves four researchers, including Lei Chen, Ph.D., (co-PI), professor of IT; Hayden Wimmer, Ph.D., (co-PI), associate professor of IT; Elise Cain, Ph.D., (co-PI), assistant professor of leadership’ and Kania Greer, Ed.D., (external evaluator), program coordinator of the Center for STEM education. The project also received support from the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) and the Georgia Southern Office of Research.

The national and regional demand for computer and IT professionals remains high.

“This project will directly benefit our local, regional and national economies,” said CEC Dean Craig Harvey, Ph.D. “High-tech industries are already in and being attracted to the Savannah area, and the locations of Georgia Southern University’s campuses provide unique opportunities to train high-quality computing and IT professionals who are in high demand.”

The Department of Information Technology offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate computer and IT programs at Georgia Southern, in addition to a new Ph.D. program in applied computing.

This grant is the first of its kind to be received by the IT department. The department hopes that through the use of this grant, they will build stronger partnerships with businesses and federal or state government organizations, among others.

About Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers approximately 140 different degree programs serving more than 25,500 students through 10 colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia with expert faculty, the University is focused on public impact research and engaging learning opportunities through knowledge and know-how that prepare our students to take ownership of their lives, careers and communities. Visit