We are proud to announce that De'Aira Bryant and Blakeley Hoffman have each been awarded a GEM National Consortium Fellowship. Both Bryant and Hoffman were selected by Adobe Systems Incorporated, where they will complete the internship component of the fellowship. The GEM program seeks to enhance the value of the nation's human capital by increasing the participation of underrepresented groups at the master's and doctoral levels in engineering and science. The fellowship provides a stipend, tuition assistance, and a paid summer internship in 2017. More than 4,000 GEM Fellowships have been awarded since the program's inception 41 years ago.
Bryant graduated this May from the College of Engineering and Computing with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. She is the recipient of the Solomon Jackson Jr. Scholarship, the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, and the Valedictorian Scholarship, as well as the 2016 Lillie J. James Computer Science Award and most recently the 2017 NSF GRFP. Her undergraduate research over the last three years has been in the Assistive Robotics and Technology Lab, under the mentorship of Dr. Jenay Beer, partially funded with a Magellan Scholarship. Much of her work went towards "Ms. An the Robot Tutor," a project involving the use of an NAO humanoid robot as a mathematics tutor for elementary school students. The co-founder and current president of Minorities in Computing at USC, she is also a member of Women in Computing, Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has also volunteered with FIRST Robotics Competitions, the Hour of Code, and the CEC Engineering Week Open House for several years. Bryant will intern with Adobe Systems Inc. this summer and begin her PhD in Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall. Bryant plans to become a university professor of computer science conducting research in the field of human-computer interaction.
Hoffman graduated this May from the South Carolina Honors College with majors in Computer Science and Mathematics. She is the Joseph Land Carolina Scholar, a 2016 Grace Hopper Scholar, a Lieber Scholar and a Palmetto Fellow. During her time as an undergraduate, Hoffman has conducted research exploring the use of humanoid robots as math tutors, algorithms for maximizing social welfare, and machine learning algorithms for autonomous driving. She has published in AAMAS, an internationally recognized conference in multiagent systems, and has presented her research across the country at institutions such as Stanford and UC Berkeley. Hoffman is committed to outreach and diversity in STEM. She is a founding member and the current Co-President of USC's Women in Computing chapter, has co-founded a local Google CS First club, and serves as a College of Engineering and Computing Ambassador. Next year, Hoffman plans to pursue a Masters in Media Arts and Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and will conduct research to understand how technology is changing the nature of human cooperation and to design technologies to scale up human cooperation.
GEM Fellowship candidates are supported by the University's Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs, established in 1994 to assist students for national fellowship competitions and by the University of South Carolina's GEM advisor, Dr. Mike Matthews of the College of Engineering and Computing. Of this year's winners, Dr. Matthews noted "De'Aira and Blakely exemplify the spirit of No Limits at the University of South Carolina. They show how much a person can achieve when they seize some of the many opportunities available. Our Department of Computer Science and Engineering is a leader in producing graduates who will help address the urgent need for diversification of the workforce of in our high tech industries." To learn more about national fellowships and competitions visit www.sc.edu/ofsp.