Loyola University Maryland student David Christo, ’14, was recently awarded significant scholarships from NASA and Google to support his studies during his final two years as an undergraduate.
Christo, a computer science major from Glenn Dale, Md., received a $30,000 NASA Aeronautics Scholarship that will go toward his tuition for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. His Google Lime Scholarship, worth $10,000, will help offset his tuition in 2012-13.
“With both awards I sat back and thought, ‘wow, did this just happen?’ I had the credentials to apply but it was sort of a Hail Mary shot given the quality of the best tech students from all across the country,” said the 20-year-old Christo.
The NASA Aeronautics Scholarship program’s goal is to help advance the nation’s aeronautics enterprise by investing in the educational development of the future aeronautics workforce. Applicants were required to submit an essay describing what they consider to be the greatest technical challenges in aeronautics for the next 20-25 years, and the reasons these challenges will be so significant. Christo’s essay focused on the need to develop a comprehensive simulation of the entire U.S. air transportation system to plan for extraordinary “what if” situations and to train air traffic control and other airport personnel. Christo is one of only 20 scholarship recipients for 2012 and has the option to accept an internship at NASA in summer 2013 to work on a project related to the issues he described in his essay.
The Google Lime Scholarship program honors undergraduate students with disabilities who are enrolled at schools in the United States or Canada and pursuing a computer science or computer engineering degree, or a degree in a closely related technical field. Christo has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and he is one of only 15 students to receive the Google Lime Scholarship this year. The substantial monetary award came with an all-expenses paid three-day retreat to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., where Christo and his fellow scholarship winners got a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most recognized tech companies in the world.
“It was like walking into a software developer’s paradise,” said Christo, who hopes to work for a recognized video gaming company after he graduates. “It appealed to the geek in me.”
Christo’s applications were supported by Roger Eastman, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science at Loyola, and David Binkley, Ph.D., professor and director of the computer science graduate program. He chose Loyola because of the University’s strong computer science department and resources available through Disability Support Services.
On campus, Christo is involved in OPTIONS and Upsilon Pi Epsilon (the international honor society for the computing and information disciplines), and he plays trumpet in the Jazz Ensemble.