Amateur Radio places a lot of emphasis on mentoring the next generation. Mentorship doesn’t always have to be in a Radio Lab, though. It can be a shot in the arm to a high school student as he or she applies to college.
Enter the Scholarship.
Why Computer Science?
Computer Science is second only to engineering for the number of college applicants. With an average starting salary of $55,000, according to PayScale, you can see why young minds are attracted to the field. And while few of them will make it to Silicon Valley, there is no reason Amateur Radio Clubs can’t encourage their dreams and promote technology at the same time.
Data communication is the standard in many other services. Public Safety, Commercial, Telecommunication, and the Military all use data waveforms in their primary communication systems. Amateur Radio, specifically the methods we use, are legacy systems for the most part. It is in everyone’s interest, ours especially, to encourage the next generation of data architects.
In a more pragmatic way, there are a several benefits to offering a scholarship.
The main reason a company will award a scholarship is to be recognized by the public. The public is their customer and the more good things they do for the public, the more their name sticks in their customer’s minds.
Awarding a scholarship will do the same thing for your club. If done correctly, your club can get at least three news cycles out of the scholarship. The first one is the invitation to apply, the second is a preview before the announcement, and the third is the awarding of the scholarship itself. You can get a bonus by making the announcement at a club meeting but presenting the check at to the student at school a few days later.
The more educated the public, the better jobs they will have. The better job, the better the paycheck. A side benefit of the scholarship is that they promote workplace diversity. There are a lot of students who are not white nor male who know technology. Color the workforce, color the hobby too.
The proliferation of digital technologies over radio isn’t going to end. For all the hand wringing over Morse Code, it is voice that has lost the largest share of use in the past 20 years. Entry level license holders are using their data privileges on HF more and more, and it will only continue. Software Defined Radios are the future, and we should promote the technology to the next generation of data architects.