SEATTLE - Boeing, Microsoft and Washington State want to encourage more students to enter engineering and scientific fields. The shorthand for these careers is STEM, standing for jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This month another 800 scholarships worth up to $17,000 per student were issued.

Those scholarships come in the second year of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program. The program started awarding grants last year to 3,000 students. The initial awards are $1,000 in the freshman and sophomore years that go to $5,000 a year once that student declares a major in one of the STEM fields, which include some 400 majors.

Where's the money coming from? Both Microsoft and Boeing are each kicking in $25 million to get the program rolling. The State of Washington matching. So far the companies have invested $10 million each and the state $5 million. Right now it's envisioned the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship could award $1 billion to deserving students.

The program was developed as Washington's tech sector found that it couldn't find enough qualified candidates to fill thousands of jobs. Earlier in 2013, the Washington Roundtable, a business group, commissioned a study which found there are 25,000 unfilled tech jobs at Washington companies, a number that's expected to grow until state universities like the University of Washington can crank out more graduates.

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