The CSTA/ACM Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing was established to honor outstanding high school seniors who want to pursue advanced studies in computer science or technology. In addition to empowering young and ambitious students to explore computing challenges outside of a conventional classroom setting, this program aims to promote and encourage computer science.

Four student winner headshots are stacked on a black background with the text Congratulations to Hannah Guan, Nathan Elias, Sirihaasa Nallamothu and Okezue Bell.

The prize is made available through a $1 million endowment established by David Cutler and Gordon Bell. Dr. Cutler is a software engineer, designer, and developer of several operating systems, including Windows NT at Microsoft and RSX-11M, VMS, and VAXELN at Digital Equipment Corporation. He is a senior technical fellow at Microsoft. Dr. Bell is an electrical engineer and an early employee of Digital Equipment Corporation, where he led VAX development. He is now a researcher emeritus at Microsoft Research.

Applications will open in the fall.

Program Timeline

  • Late Fall: Application opens. Note: CSTA Awards Committee “Office Hour” sessions are available throughout the application period. Students and teachers welcome!
  • Mid-Winter: Application closes; all applications are evaluated by reviewers.
  • Spring: CSTA Awards Committee selects winners; all applicants are notified of their application status.


Up to four annual winners will receive:

  • A $10,000 scholarship (administered through the financial aid department at the university the student will attend)
  • Complimentary registration to the next CSTA Annual Conference; travel and lodging will be provided to the winner and one guardian for in-person conferences
  • Opportunity to present your project at the next CSTA Annual Conference
  • Recognition on CSTA and ACM’s websites

Eligibility Requirements

To apply for the Cutler-Bell Prize, you must be a graduating high school senior residing and attending school in the US. Applicants are asked to submit an artifact that engages modern computing technology and computer science. Judges will look for submissions that demonstrate ingenuity, complexity, relevancy, originality, impact, and a desire to further computer science as a discipline.

Application and Review

Students must develop an original computational artifact that engages with modern computing technology and computer science. CSTA’s mission to expand equity in CS education includes expanding equitable practices within our awards program. To ensure a fair review process, all applicants are anonymized and their applications reviewed by educators who have completed CSTA’s equity award training. The Cutler-Bell Application collects demographic information and includes additional questions around prior awarding for projects in order to ensure a fair process for all applicants.

See previous winners to learn about the types of projects selected. To help prepare students for the application, the 2022–23 application questions are available for review. We encourage students to make a copy of the application in which to prepare your answers prior to submitting.

The application includes:

  • Description of your project and its development (three essays, each 1000 words or fewer)
  • Project source code and executable file
  • A short video showing and describing the project (2–5 minutes)
  • Consent form (17 and under, 18 and over)

A group of educators will review all submissions and judge projects based on ingenuity, complexity, relevancy, originality, impact, and the student’s desire to further computer science as a discipline.

Have questions? Check out this FAQ or contact us at