Makers of the Blackberry proud to fund scholarships, student research.

James Warden

Research in Motion has given support to graduate student scholarships and student projects in electrical engineering.

Since 2010, Research In Motion (RIM), best known for revolutionizing wireless communication with the introduction of the BlackBerry, has provided UNT's College of Engineering with funding to support undergraduate and graduate scholarships and research projects.

Jennifer Williams is a perfect example that shows how RIM supports UNT's College of Engineering students.

Williams, a first-year graduate student, was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in April to conduct research in engineering. She's the first student from UNT's College of Engineering, and the 7th UNT student overall, to be named an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

"I have been very blessed," she says. "It's like the last year has been full of dominoes of great things."

According to Williams, one of the first dominoes of her good fortune was the undergraduate scholarship she received from RIM in 2011, the year Williams graduated magna cum laude with her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from UNT.

"It's an amazing feeling to know you are being supported in your education," Williams says. "It lessens the worry about finances, and it helps you focus."

Williams says the RIM Scholarship and her grant from the National Science Foundation have provided the financial support she will need to continue her research. Williams' research focuses on environmental monitoring systems, sustainable design and STEM education. She is particularly interested in sustainable ranching and sustainable agriculture, and says she may use sensors to study the relationship between soil moisture, humidity and automatic irrigation.

For RIM, the benefits of partnering with UNT to help promising student researchers like Williams cannot be underestimated, says James Warden, the company's director of advanced antenna and electromagnetic research.

He says corporate partnerships with the university are "equal parts good community relations and good business sense."

Warden also says that RIM's partnership with UNT extends beyond scholarships. Members of the company's Dallas-Fort Worth-area staff regularly serve as guest lecturers in classes and are invited to judge end-of-semester research projects.

"It's important for us to have a genuine relationship with UNT," Warden says. "We want to model the importance of lifelong learning. We want to hire promising engineers from the university. We also want to engage with the faculty whose research might bring the next innovation to the field."

Colton Smith, a UNT electrical engineering senior, and his classmates recently shared their undergraduate research findings with Warden as part of their final exam.

"Industry executives bring experience and perspective that we need in the classroom," Smith says. "The fact that RIM provides the funding for our projects makes their input even more important."

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