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New Scholarship Fund to Help Aspiring Engineers in Region

San Diego, CA, February 23, 2006 -- Undergraduate students enrolled in the Jacobs School of Engineering have a new avenue to help fund their education, thanks to a QUALCOMM Inc. commitment of $250,000 for a new scholarship fund to help students pursuing engineering degrees at UCSD, San Diego State University and Cal State San Marcos.

LEAD San Diego and The San Diego Foundation today announced the establishment of the San Diego Engineering Scholarship Fund, designed to help San Diego students with limited means pursue engineering degrees at San Diego State University, Cal State San Marcos or the University of California San Diego. LEAD San Diego also announced that QUALCOMM has committed $250,000 to the new scholarship fund.

The scholarship announcement was at the heart of a public forum convened by LEAD San Diego and co-sponsored by QUALCOMM for National Engineers Week. The San Diego Foundation, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, the San Diego Regional EDC, SDSU, UCSD and local science educators and students also participated in the forum at the Elementary Institute of Science (EIS) exploring local challenges and initiatives addressing math, science and engineering education. A series of laboratory exhibits showcased some of the region’s successful initiatives, including High Tech High and Project Lead the Way for high school engineering projects.

“Addressing a regional challenge like this requires the cooperation of many different sectors. With their gift, QUALCOMM sets a compelling example for San Diego’s high tech sector,” said Kevin Cottrell, president of LEAD San Diego. “LEAD’s goal is to serve as the spark to ignite initiatives like this one. Together, we can transform our region’s economy and create new opportunity.”

“At QUALCOMM, we want to do our part to energize students and encourage them to imagine themselves in math, science and technology careers,” said Dr. Daniel L. Sullivan, executive vice president of human resources. “Tuition expenses should not be a barrier to education. This fund will build a pipeline of bright new engineers in San Diego to help secure the economic future of the region.”

Forum speakers and panelists cited several studies that called for action to bolster the region and nation’s math, science and technology education efforts. A 2005 report from the National Academy of Sciences noted:

1. A critical misalignment between K-12 science and math education programs and the needs of high tech and biotech industries;
2. Flat or declining numbers of American students with university degrees in the physical sciences and engineering for nearly two decades despite an increase in overall degrees; and
3. A growing reliance on foreign nationals and students with US visas to fill the gap in U.S. graduate education programs in science and engineering.

Presenters also discussed some statewide and local education indicators. A 2005 Rand Corporation report, which studied California K-12 schools concluded the state had underfunded them for the past three decades compared to the national average and that California teachers still routinely teach classes with 30 to 40 percent more students than the national average. That report found too many California teachers ill-prepared to teach math and science in elementary and middle school.

Local educators estimate the San Diego region will need 615 middle and high school math teachers over the next five years. Yet the universities in the region produce fewer than 60 math teachers a year, requiring a full decade to meet the need expected over the next five years.

Bruce Blakley, chair of The San Diego Foundation’s Board of Governors, thanked QUALCOMM for seeding the San Diego Engineering Scholarship Fund to address the increasing shortage of home-grown engineers. “The Foundation looks forward to helping young San Diegans achieve their dreams as we administer this new fund. We’re excited about the opportunity of attracting other generous donors who understand, like QUALCOMM, the region’s responsibility to bolster math, science and engineering education,” he said.

“We’re addressing an education issue today, but our success or failure in meeting these challenges will rapidly be felt in the workplace. It’s an economic development issue, as well,” said Lawrence G. Fitch, president and CEO, San Diego Workforce Partnership.

For more information about The San Diego Foundation, visit www.sdfoundation.org or contact Sara Wilensky at (619) 235-2300.

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