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Students reaping benefits of SUCCESS program

Dr. Kenan Hatipoglu Dr. Hatipoglu
In 2020, Dr. Hatipoglu, an associate professor in the electrical and computer engineering department, and his team won a generous grant for West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech). The grant funds the SUCCESS (Supporting Undergraduate Cohorts of Career-Ready Engineering and Science Scholars) program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program (S-STEM). This grant was given to less than a hundred schools in the United States.

Students who demonstrate financial need and majoring in electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science or information systems can apply for the program.

There are currently six students in the SUCCESS program. The benefits these students receive go beyond the classroom. While earning their respective degrees, students get access to industry mentors, funding for conferences and research, and get to work closely with faculty members. Students are also encouraged to earn a minor in entrepreneurship.

Griffin Holbert, a freshman electrical engineering student from Poca, West Virginia, said that he was initially planning on going into the real estate business after high school. Holbert explained he took a year off after high school because he didn’t know what he wanted to do as a career. However, when he learned about the SUCCESS scholarship, he knew he needed to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I love math and problem-solving, and my uncle is an electrical engineer and a serial entrepreneur,” Holbert explained.

He plans on continuing in his uncle’s footsteps in being an engineer and an entrepreneur. 

“The program been really beneficial. When I was first coming to college, I didn’t want to be super involved because I wanted to concentrate on my work. This program has put me in positions where I have gotten to meet a lot of people,” he said. “It’s definitely made me get comfortable in uncomfortable positions.”

Holbert is currently the president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and says he wouldn’t have done that if he were not involved in the SUCCESS program.

“The faculty are so helpful and are great resources for us,” he said. “And, I’m very lucky to have no debt so far, thanks to this program.”

Holbert plans on using his entrepreneurship minor to create businesses and still wants to pursue avenues in real estate in addition to his engineering career when he graduates.

Kaleb Cole, a freshman computer science major from Pennsboro, West Virginia, has also found connections and opportunities through the SUCCESS program beyond the monetary value of his scholarship.

“Before coming here, I had no real knowledge of WVU Tech. When I heard about this scholarship opportunity, I researched it and figured out it was a good engineering school. Because of the program, I decided to apply,” Cole said.

Because of the scholarship, he is going to school for free.

“My favorite part of this program is that they connect you with industry mentors,” Cole says.

His industry mentor, a Golden Bear alumnus, works in Morgantown for a consulting firm.

“We have monthly meetings discussing how I’m doing in classes, and he shares his experience in the industry. We actually met and had lunch during homecoming, too,” he said.

Cole is currently taking his second entrepreneurship course. One of the objectives of the class is to have a registered business by the end of the semester. He said he thought it would be a daunting task but has developed a business idea for an app that helps college students with project deadlines.

“I don’t think I would have been thinking about having a business or anything like that this early,” he said.

He and his industry mentor have talked about his app, and Cole gets valuable insight into what kinds of apps and projects are being produced in the industry.

When Cole first came to Tech, Cole planned on being a software developer for apps and games. Now, Cole says he’s got lots of business ideas, too, that he wants to explore while using his computer science degree.

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity,” Cole said. “It connects you to people in these four majors that I know will be great resources down the line.”