Georgia Tech Outreach Prepares Students for Technology Jobs and Future STEM Education

In early December, Georgia Tech accepted over 2,600 students from 111 different counties. The first student admitted, however, was from an unexpected locale – Twiggs County – where in many years no student applied, and no other applicant had been admitted since 2000.

Cameron Pearson smiles while holding his acceptance letter. He stands next to Mack Bullard, who is also smiling and looking at the camera.
Cameron Pearson (left) poses with his acceptance letter to Georgia Tech next to Mack Bullard (right), the superintendent of schools in Twiggs County. Cameron was the first student to receive his acceptance letter to Tech this school year. 

In late November, a group of 60 Twiggs County High School students visited Georgia Tech’s campus. Among them was senior Cameron Pearson, who had recently applied to Tech as an electrical engineering major. Just a few days away from releasing Early Action 1 admission decisions, Tech surprised Cameron by presenting him with his acceptance letter in person. 

“While Georgia Tech has an international reputation, our top priority is attracting talent from communities around our state and providing them with a world-class educational experience,” said Rick Clark, executive director for strategic student access in the division of Enrollment Management at Tech. 

From its founding in the late 1800s, Tech has focused on equipping Georgians with the knowledge and skills necessary to improve the state’s economy and competitive standing. Nearly 150 years later, through research, training, and statewide partnerships, this commitment and mission is stronger than ever: guaranteeing admission to Georgia’s high school valedictorians and salutatorians, providing millions of dollars in scholarships to talented Georgians through the G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise Program, and partnering with Georgia communities to help them improve and innovate. 

One way Tech is reaching across Georgia is through its Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC). CEISMC provides K-12 support through professional development, STEM enrichment, and other outreach programs and partnerships that have become essential to Georgia’s thriving technology industry. 

“Engaging with communities in all regions of Georgia allows us to have an open dialogue about the resources Tech can provide to assist in preparing students for life beyond school,” said Sirocus Barnes, senior program director for CEISMC. “We can also help prepare students who decide they want to earn a degree from Tech.” 

One of CEISMC’s efforts, the Computer Science for Rural Georgia High Schools Pilot Program, began in 2022. This program, in partnership with Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI) K-12 outreach program STEM@GTRI, connects participating districts and their students to Georgia Tech faculty and staff, as well as quality instruction and high-level resources. 

Twiggs County was quick to become a partner in the program, joining in the fall of 2023 to bolster their computer science program. 

“In 2021, the technology sector in Georgia prospered with over 100,000 jobs, spanning areas such as programming, coding, cybersecurity, software engineering, technical repair, and artificial intelligence,” said Mack Bullard, superintendent of schools in Twiggs County. “Specifically, there are more than 25,000 IT and technical repair occupations and over 24,000 cybersecurity and system engineer positions in the state. Through our partnership with Georgia Tech, our students and faculty gain valuable exposure to highly respected faculty, cutting-edge research, and professional development programs. This exposure is integral to preparing our students for technology-related career fields.”  

On top of CEISMC’s efforts across the state, the Office of Undergraduate Admission at Georgia Tech greatly expanded their state travel efforts in 2023. Counselors visited 98 counties, 60 more than their usual pre-pandemic circuit, and connected with nearly 4,500 students at 282 schools. 

CEISMC plans to expand the pilot program to include eight additional schools this spring. To learn more about CEISMC, view their fall 2023 CEISMC Impact Magazine. To provide support for CEISMC and other outreach efforts, visit the Transforming Tomorrow campaign website

Georgia Tech Continues Commitment to Expanding Student Access With New Executive Director Role

Enrollment Management at Georgia Tech introduces a new role to continue the past decade’s work in expanding access to Tech for Georgia students. This first-of-its-kind position will break down financial barriers to obtaining a Tech education.

Rick Clark speaks with students on campus.
Rick Clark (center) filled the new role, where he will focus on continuing Georgia Tech’s long-standing commitment to expanding access.

At the start of the new year, Georgia Tech’s division of Enrollment Management introduced the groundbreaking role of executive director of strategic student access. This role continues Tech’s commitment to increasing opportunities for talented students to study at the Institute. 

Effective Jan. 1, Rick Clark, associate vice provost of Enrollment Management and executive director of Undergraduate Admission, assumed the new executive director role. Mary Tipton Woolley, senior associate director of Undergraduate Admission, stepped in to serve as the interim executive director of Undergraduate Admission. 

The executive director of strategic student access position will create and implement a strategic plan to increase opportunities for financially vulnerable undergraduates to earn a Georgia Tech bachelor’s degree. The creation of this position underscores Tech’s commitment to the state of Georgia and life-changing access to a Tech education.  

This position will collaborate with a variety of stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, K-12 superintendents and principals, community leaders, government agencies, corporate sponsors, philanthropies, alumni, students, and donors.  

“At Georgia Tech, our commitment to expanding access is a cornerstone of our mission because we believe talent has no limits and that financial limitations should not stand in the way of any talented student,” said Steve McLaughlin, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “Rick Clark’s time at Tech, experience, and passion for our mission prepare him well to serve in the inaugural role as we work to dismantle financial barriers.” 

Notable initiatives to increase access to a Tech education over the past decade include the Atlanta Public School Scholars Program, which began in 2014 to grant scholarships to eligible valedictorians and salutatorians in Atlanta Public Schools. This was followed by the creation of the Georgia Tech Scholars Program in 2017, a program guaranteeing admission to eligible high school valedictorians and salutatorians statewide.  

In 2016, Georgia Tech also joined other universities across the country in the American Talent Initiative, a collaborative effort between multiple colleges to share strategies to help more financially vulnerable students obtain a degree. 

Then 2023 brought the expansion of the G. Wayne Clough Tech Promise Scholarship to offer a debt-free experience to students from families with an estimated income of $55,500 or less. The scholarship, which is the first of its kind offered by a public university in the state of Georgia, has served over 1,000 eligible students since its establishment in 2007. 

Also in 2023, Georgia Tech created the Val-Sal Scholarship for valedictorians and salutatorians from the state of Georgia with financial need. This scholarship was offered to 25 incoming first-year students for the 2023-24 school year. 

Together, these efforts have provided the opportunity for more qualified Georgians than ever to study at Tech. 

“Empowering dreams, breaking barriers. In Enrollment Management, we take pride in our commitment to student access,” said Paul Kohn, vice provost of Enrollment Management. “From the inception of the APS Scholars admission and scholarship program in 2014 to the recent addition of the Val-Sal scholarship recognizing Georgia’s highest achieving high school students, and now the introduction of the executive director for strategic student access role, we’ve been dedicated to creating pathways that elevate and expand opportunities for every student. Together, we’re shaping a future where access knows no bounds.” 

On Jan. 1, Clark turned his full attention to his new role, where he will focus on building relationships with education and community leaders as well as connecting with the Office of Development to implement strategies to exceed fundraising goals for need-based scholarships. Additionally, Clark will work with campus partners to ensure accessibility of resources for all students, regardless of income.  

“In my 20 years working in Tech’s Undergraduate Admission office, I’ve seen that talent is truly everywhere; opportunity, unfortunately, is not,” said Clark. “My goal in this position is to ensure that students — regardless of their socioeconomic background — can not only afford to attend Georgia Tech, but also engage in all the transformative opportunities we provide.”  

To learn more about ways to support current and future Tech students, visit the Transforming Tomorrow campaign website.