February 14, 2011

Cornell Graduate Wins Gates Scholarship for Computer Science

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As one of 30 American recipients of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, announced Feb. 6, Ben Cole ’10 now has the option to continue his studies and pursue a masters degree in advanced computer science at the University of Cambridge next year. “I had an interview [Feb. 4] and I got an e-mail two days later with the subject line ‘Gates Cambridge Scholarship Interview Results,’” Cole said. “I was like, well, okay, that’s clearly not an acceptance.” He said he read the email three times before realizing he had been offered the scholarship.Winners of the Gates Scholarship receive full payment for their graduate studies at Cambridge. Founded in October 2000 by a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the scholarship has funded the studies of almost 1,000 students from more than 90 countries.Cole said he first became interested in pursuing a graduate education at Cambridge after he spent a semester abroad at another British unviversity. “The system is very different from the U.S.,” Cole said. “There’s a university and under the university are many different colleges … So you get a community within your college, which is within a university.” In addition to the structure, Cole also said he liked the supervision system at Cambridge, which offers students significant one-on-one time with professors.Besides Cambridge, Cole also applied to programs at MIT, Stanford and UC Berkeley, which he is still waiting to hear back from. According to its website, the Gates Scholarship is awarded to 80 to 100 new scholars every year from a potential applicant pool of close to 1,000. At any given time at Cambridge, there are approximately 250 scholars representing 60 countries, although almost half of the students are from the U.S.While at Cornell, Cole majored in information science, serving as the president of the Information Science Student Association.

Original Author: Peter Jacobs