Phenomenal World: Juliana and Homer Schamp Memorial Scholarship seeks to inspire the next generation of teachers

Think back to the science classes you took as a child. What do you remember about them? Did you watch a caterpillar spin a cocoon and emerge a butterfly, or a tadpole grow into a frog? Did you turn baking soda and vinegar into a fuming volcano, or set off a homemade hot air balloon from the school parking lot? Did you feel a sense of wonder as you watched the world work its unique magic?

That’s the sense of wonder the late Homer W. Schamp, Jr., UMBC’s first dean of the faculty, professor emeritus of education, and trained physicist, pursued science with, and one he sought to instill in both his students and his own children. His wife Juliana Reese Schamp, who worked on important sociological research for the state of Maryland, treated life the same way, until her passing in 2009.

With the Juliana and Homer Schamp Memorial Scholarship, their sons, Brough and David Schamp, hope to keep their parents’ legacy of intellectual curiosity alive in the next generation of K-12 science educators.

Throughout his life, Dr. Schamp, a former College Park physics professor who joined UMBC in 1965, emphasized early education as a crucial part of a child’s intellectual development. His own introduction to science began during his childhood in rural Ohio, when, according to his son David, he became fascinated with the engineering of farm equipment. It’s a curiosity he emphasized to the education classes he taught here, and something he brought up his own children with as well.

“He exposed us to all kinds of different things as we were growing up,” says Brough. “Mushroom hunting, […] botany, the stars, everything. […] His main field was physics, which is really pretty abstract, but what he really was interested in was the phenomenal, real world that we live in.” After his retirement, Brough says, Dr. Schamp built several kinetic sculptures and interactive physics-based artworks, including a large kaleidoscope on display at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

Brough shares his father’s belief that science “should be a hands-on subject,” and says that computers and technology can create a distance between students and the physical world around them.

“The kids should be inspired by something they saw, heard, felt, experienced,” he says. “[That] inspiration is something that is often lost if you’re just looking at something on a computer and answering questions.”

In keeping with his philosophy on education, Dr. Schamp made sure to hire only the highest-quality professors, and it’s doubtful that UMBC would be the hub for innovative teaching and experiential learning it is today without the Schamps’ early influence.

“UMBC was my father’s life’s work and both of my parents conceived of it as a first rank teaching institution,” David says. While his mother, Juliana, was never a faculty member, she was “instrumental in [UMBC’s first faculty] being hired, as recruitment usually began as an evening in our home where my parents could converse [with candidates] on almost any topic.”

Giving back to UMBC seems to run in the family: Homer and Juliana Schamp established the Joseph D. Reese Memorial Prize, a biennial award given to history students, in memory of her father. “It seemed only natural to want to contribute to a place so dear to [our parents],” says David.

He agrees with his brother that their parents raised them to be thinkers, to ask questions.

“I often later felt I had learned my most important lessons at home — specifically how to learn — [and] that curiosity and thoroughness were rewarding and that it had to come from within. Knowing how to learn is the most crucial skill a teacher can pass on and my parents really encapsulated that skill. I would hope any future teachers would want to engender that in their pupils,” he says.

We don’t know exactly what science education will look like when the first Schamp scholar teaches their first class, but we do know that they’ll have the intellect, leadership, and natural curiosity to inspire a new generation of learners.

Julia Celtnieks ’13

Make a gift to UMBC today, and help inspire a new generation.


Hacking the Real World: Donor support gives students hands-on experience in their fields


This spring, more than 350 students joined in this year’s annual HackUMBC, a 24-hour “tech innovation marathon” where participants were challenged to come up with creative solutions to specific challenges. The slogan: “Dream big. Make it happen.”

Students worked individually and on teams to build projects, or “hacks,” which were judged on technical complexity, elegance, and creativity during an expo at the conclusion of the event.

Contrary to popular belief, not all hacks require computer coding. “We call it an idea marathon,” explains Michael Bishoff ’16, computer science, a founder of HackUMBC. “It doesn’t have to be an app or a computer program.” In the past, participants have built tangible things like pop-up showers and coffee makers. Next year, HackUMBC would even like to incorporate a social good component, challenging students to come up with solutions to societal challenges.

“I’m trying to see where tech could come into play for disadvantaged groups,” says current HackUMBC co-president Celestine Wong, a rising senior studying computer science and social work. “I find a lot of joy in doing good for someone else.”

Wong’s dual major in social work and computer science has fueled her interest in finding real-world intersections between the fields, and she’s not alone. Many hackathons focus on how hacks can make the world a better place. As both Bishoff and Wong point out, these events can be great resume builders, but they’re even better when they create an opportunity to help the community.

The event has drawn interest and sponsorship support from a variety of leading tech companies and government agencies. Dan Hood ’01, computer science, is the chief technology officer for one of those companies, ClearEdge IT Solutions, which provides provides software engineering and data solutions and services. Hood says that for ClearEdge, getting involved with UMBC and the hackathon makes sense — it gives their company a chance to see some of the brightest upcoming students, and they get to help those students by providing learning opportunities and exposure to the career options that await them.

“I think it’s important to support the next generation of the workforce,” says Hood.

The National Security Agency (NSA), a top employer for UMBC alumni, provided “technical talks, mentors, and recruitment opportunities” for students during the event, says Kathy Hutson, NSA’s associate director for human resources.

“NSA and UMBC work closely together to help build the leaders of today and tomorrow to ensure that the Agency can protect and defend the country,” Hutson explained. “UMBC graduates have contributed greatly to our mission and we are proud of all we have accomplished together.”

Tenable Network Security, a firm that provides comprehensive security technology solutions, supports the Hackathon because it values UMBC’s educational initiatives, its students, and its cyber-focused extracurricular activities.

“The platform UMBC provided, which allowed companies to help students with hacking-related questions, was very useful in creating an innovative and collaborative atmosphere,” said Tenable Network Security’s spokesperson.

That innovative atmosphere goes a long way to helping students gain the valuable real-world experience they’ll need to land a job. In fact, those extracurriculars can help students stand out amongst a crowd of applicants.

“While classroom experience is fantastic, we encourage students to engage in personal projects that help them apply the skills learned within the curriculum,” says Tenable Network Security’s spokesperson. “These are qualities of very successful employees at Tenable and something we feel is important for students to realize early on.”

Hands-on experience is one of the chief benefits of HackUMBC, says Bishoff. “It’s like a 24-hour recruiting event,” he explains. “The students who come to these events are passionate about programming. They’re the kinds of people who want to work on weekends.”

Hood adds that the Hackathon gives students the chance to work in a team environment, navigate the stress of a time crunch, and be innovative. “To see [participants] go from nothing to concept to prototype in a day is pretty remarkable,” he says.

See more news coverage: AND

Learn about Hack UMBC:

HackUMBC was sponsored by Tenable Network Security, ClearEdge IT Solutions, the NSA, McCormick, TowerSEC, Northrop Grumman, PayPal, T. Rowe Price, VentureStorm, Namecheap, Soylent, Google, and Square.

— Meredith Purvis