Vitaly Pecherskiy, the co-founder and chief operating officer of StackAdapt Inc., recently launched a scholarship for first-year Black and Indigenous engineering students at UW.
Black and Indigenous students are underrepresented in engineering and other STEM fields of study, currently making up less than 10 per cent of the student population in STEM degrees.
In 2017, StackAdapt, a self-serve advertising platform for digital marketers, produced a documentary about the issue of diversity in the technology industry, which is what originally sparked Pecherskiy’s interest in the topic of diversity and inclusion.
“The documentary included an examination of the ‘pipeline problem’ — namely, how the comparatively low numbers of BIPOC individuals who study computer sciences and engineering, in turn, contributes to the lack of diversity in these areas in the workforce,” writes Pecherskiy in his blog.
Pecherskiy intended to use this scholarship as a way of increasing accessibility to education and creating opportunities for these underrepresented groups.
The scholarship — called the Vitaly Pecherskiy Entrance Award — will be awarded to one student, valued at $20,000, or two students, valued at $10,000 each. Additional financial compensation will be provided to the recipients for participating in outreach initiatives and encouraging others from their community and high school to follow in their footsteps.
In order to be eligible, students must be in their first year of an engineering program, have an admission average of at least 80 per cent and should demonstrate financial need. Selection will be based on both academic achievement and extracurricular involvement. The application deadline is Apr. 15.
Although Pecherskiy graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of commerce, his company has hired many talented engineering graduates from UW at StackAdapt Inc.
Pecherskiy chose engineering for the scholarship because knowledge of computer programming opens doors to many rewarding career opportunities and these types of programs tend to be too costly for those who could benefit most from the future they have to offer.
In his own words, “if this scholarship gets one more person into a great school, into a great program, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend, then I think I have succeeded.”