KAMS student Amanda Berckefeldt a national winner of computer science award

Amanda Berckefeldt, a high school senior at the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science at Fort Hays State University, has received a 2011 Award for Aspirations in Computing from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).

"This is a good way to reward girls for continuing to pursue the computer science field," said Berckefeldt, the daughter of Richard and Debbie Berckefeldt, Paola.

She will travel to Charlotte, N.C., to accept the award at a ceremony March 12. Hers was one of 35 given out by NCWIT out of more than 900 applications. Berckefeldt will receive $500 in cash; a laptop computer, provided by the Bank of America; and the trip to the Bank of America Technology Showcase and Awards Ceremony in Charlotte. She will also receive an engraved award. Her school will also receive a plaque.

Students who complete the KAMS curriculum graduate from their sending high school (Paola High School in Berckefeldt's case) and receive 68 hours of college credit.

Berckefeldt, the only recipient from Kansas, found the application last fall while searching the Web for college scholarships and grants. Her KAMS research project is building a Web site to promote tourism in Paola. The project requires that she do her own coding instead of using one of the Web creation software programs such as Dreamweaver. Her computer interests range from robotics to Web design.

"It's pretty exciting," she said. For her, the award carries another benefit. "I get to see one of my friends who lives in North Carolina that weekend."

The award, sponsored by Bank of America and NCWIT, recognizes young high school women for their computing-related achievements and interests as part of an effort to encourage more young women to choose careers in technology. The 35 award-winners were selected from high schools across the country for their outstanding aptitude and interest in information technology and computing, solid leadership ability, good academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.

 “Encouraging young women’s interest in technology careers is critical: our workforce needs their creativity and their innovation,” said Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of NCWIT.

"The KAMS staff was very excited to hear of Amanda’s accomplishment," said Dr. Roger Schieferecke, associate director for student services at KAMS. "She is very deserving of the award and is an excellent representative of Paola High School, KAMS, and the state of Kansas."

NCWIT, a coalition of more than 250 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits working to increase women's participation in IT, has its headquarters at the University of Colorado, Boulder. NCWIT's work spans K-12 and higher education through industry and academic careers. Find out more at www.ncwit.org.

The Kansas Legislature established KAMS at Fort Hays State to promote mathematics and science education, to reduce the "brain drain" in which many of the best and brightest young Kansans go away to out-of-state universities and never return, and to promote economic development by providing a well-educated workforce. Kansas becomes the 16th state to have an early-entry-to-college program that offers a unique residential learning experience for high-achieving high school juniors and seniors. KAMS was established at FHSU following a selection process by the Kansas Board of Regents.

The KAMS Web site is www.fhsu.edu/kams/.

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