Catalyst Scholars Program

The Catalyst Scholars Program was launched in 2020 by the College of Engineering at Oregon State University in partnership with key donors, to help propel high-achieving and high-need students across the finish line.

The college has seen rapid growth in recent years, both in numbers of students and in their diversity. From 2009 to 2019, our enrollment has more than doubled. Among our current students, 20% are women, 19% are first-generation students, and 17% are from traditionally underrepresented groups.

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Yet, nearly one in four College of Engineering students has high financial need, as determined by Pell Grant eligibility. Nearly half of our Pell-eligible students are members of underrepresented groups, and most are also first-generation college students. While traditional scholarships and financial aid can help, they’re often not enough to see these high-need students through to completion of their degree.

“I’m proud that the College of Engineering has made significant strides in building a more diverse and inclusive community,” said Scott A. Ashford, Kearney Dean of Engineering. “But we can do better, and we’ve made it a priority. The Catalyst Scholars Program sends a powerful message that an Oregon State Engineering degree is attainable for all.”

Selection Criteria

The Catalyst Scholars Program supports high-achieving College of Engineering students with a preference for those who are in the first generation in their family to attend college and/or Oregon residents demonstrating high financial need.

Apply in ScholarDollars

Financial support that bridges the gap in financial aid


per student per year for tuition and fees.

Funded hands-on learning opportunities


per student per year for experimental learning.

A picture of John Ivan Chan.

John Ivan Chan

I am currently majoring in computer science because I believe this skill set will be important as society moves toward a technological future and I’d like to use it to make an impact on communities and individual lives. Not only does the Catalyst Scholars Program provide financial support, for which I am sincerely grateful, it also provides a connection with other engineering students that have received this scholarship and allows me to establish a network of mentors and colleagues as I pursue my academic and career goals.

Chloe Madden

As a female, I have always faced prejudice for the things I want to do. In addition, I have always been held back from doing what I love because of financial concerns. I grew up next to the Pacific Ocean and have always been fascinated by it. So, all I've ever wanted to do was learn more about the ocean and explore its great depths. I hope to go out and do hands-on research with new robotic technology. The Catalyst Scholars Program means I can pursue my dreams and become what I really want to be. It's truly a blessing and I couldn't be more grateful for this opportunity. I hope that I can show just how strong I am and that I, in fact, can be an engineer. Also, just by being a scholar, I know I have found a community of people with similar values and goals. I can't wait to see where the program will take me in my future.

A picture of Chloe Madden.
A picture of Caden Hawkins.

Caden Hawkins

I have not exactly had an easy journey, and it’s taken a lot of hard work to get where I am today. The biggest contribution to my success, however, has been those around me lending me a hand when I needed it most. The Catalyst Scholar program is another example of that. It’s been a chance for me to pursue my passion for engineering in a much less stressful way. And I intend to pay that back in full, by creating things to help people with their daily lives. The Catalyst Scholars Program has also been a wonderful experience for me to meet people on a similar path. Finally, I’m glad to see so many supportive and kind people behind this program who are eager to ensure my education continues.