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STARS scholars

The Washington State Academic RedShirt (STARS) program supports engineering and computer science students from low-income, first-generation, and underserved backgrounds in navigating the transition to college-level courses.

STARS is a two-year program with a specialized curriculum designed to build learning skills and strengthen academic preparation for core math and science prerequisites. STARS scholars are guaranteed placement into an engineering or computer science major.

Tammy Teal, ’18, and senior Ivan Cordero
"I know that without STARS, I wouldn’t be an engineer."
Tammy Teal

Read and watch how STARS is changing the future of engineering »

About the “redshirt” name

In NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics, focused and talented athletes occasionally use their first year—known as a “redshirt year”—to train to compete at the college level. Redshirt athletes practice with the team but do not play in games. After completing a redshirt year, these athletes are eligible to play for four years. STARS takes the redshirt model a little further. The first year is devoted to strengthening academic preparation and building skills and support systems necessary for success in engineering and computer science. An additional year ensures STARS scholars have the foundation needed for direct placement into an engineering or computer science major.

STARS scholars...

  • Are a tight-knit engineering learning community
  • Master core problem-solving skills in math, chemistry, physics, and computer science
  • Do better in fundamental math and science courses 
  • Improve their studying, test-taking, and time-management skills
  • Receive personalized academic and career counseling
  • Benefit from peer and faculty mentoring
  • Learn about internship and research opportunities
  • May be eligible for scholarships when funding is available
  • Cultivate passion, perseverance, and grit inside and outside the classroom

See the STARS Impact report.

Admission process

Starting in autumn 2022, students will be admitted into STARS through the College's Pathways for Inclusive Excellence (PIE). Students who select engineering or computer science as their first choice major on their UW freshman application and who would benefit from additional time and resources to ensure a strong STEM foundation are selected for PIE conditional admission. PIE programs will set students up for success by offering holistic programming and support starting the summer after high school and through the first or second year at UW. Your University of Washington admission letter will state that you have been selected for the conditional admission cohort.

Pathways for Inclusive Excellence (PIE)

STARS Students

Annual Bowling with the STARS

Watch these future engineers find the angles and adjust rotation speed!


Join us in appreciation for support and current or past funding from these organizations:

Apple logo
F5 logo
Micron logo
Microsoft logo
National Science Foundation logo
Washington State Opportunity Scholarship logo
Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering logo

Meta logo

To become a sponsor of the STARS Program, contact Sharon Dana, 206-543-6908.