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To help meet the growing demand for cybersecurity experts, the National Science Foundation’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program awarded Florida State University a $4.2 million grant to support students pursuing careers in cybersecurity.

This is the second round of funding the Department of Computer Science has received to operate this program.

“We are delighted to receive the renewal from the National Science Foundation,” said Xiuwen Liu, chairman of the department. “With the support of the Deans, over the years we have invested a lot of resources in developing, implementing and maintaining a technically sound cybersecurity program so that we can train highly competent cyber professionals. This award allows us to continue to help address the cybersecurity labor shortage, a national security issue.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job openings for information security analysts are expected to grow 33% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average rate for all occupations.

The department’s award-winning project aims to address the shortage of cybersecurity workers and improve diversity within the cybersecurity workforce. The project will provide scholarships, tuition waivers, and professional development funding to support 32 graduate and undergraduate students in FSU’s cybersecurity degree program.

The renewal is tied to the original grant, which first received funding from the NSF CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program in 2016.

The program aims to recruit and train the next generation of information technology professionals, industrial control systems security professionals and security managers to meet the cybersecurity needs of federal, state, local and tribal. The program offers scholarships, funded by NSF grants, for up to three years of undergraduate and graduate teaching support in cybersecurity. FSU’s SFS-affiliated program is one of the largest of 90 programs at American universities.

In addition to scholarships and academic stipends, students in the cybersecurity program will have the opportunity to explore internships with qualified agencies over the summer. Fellows agree to work in cybersecurity-related positions with the U.S. government after graduation, for a period equal to the duration of their fellowship.

“As cyber threats continue to evolve in complexity, our approaches to cybersecurity education and our workforce must also evolve,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said in a press release. announcing SFS grants to FSU and other institutions. “Cybersecurity talent shortages remain a critical issue in the United States, with businesses and government agencies struggling to fill critical cybersecurity positions. These new CyberCorps for Service Scholarship projects engage diverse student populations and provide innovative, high-quality educational experiences that will ensure our nation is prepared to meet future cyber threats with a well-educated workforce.

Part of the grant will go towards research into the factors that motivate students to work in the government sector and ways to encourage people from underrepresented groups to specialize in cybersecurity. The grant will also allow the department to purchase software and testbeds for security penetration testing, which will give researchers the ability to replicate real-world settings and identify potential blind spots in systems. of cybersecurity.

“This grant will increase the number of FSU cybersecurity students and FSU’s visibility in the cybersecurity field for the next five years,” said computer science professor An-I “Andy” Wang, a new member of the FSU scholarship management team. “It will also provide support so that a number of FSU computer science students can obtain a master’s degree in computer science, which will allow them to acquire more computer knowledge and improve their employment opportunities after graduation. graduation.”

In addition to Wang and Liu, the researchers involved in the project are computer science professors Mike Burmester, David Whalley and Jie Yang, with NSF program managers Victor P. Piotrowski and Li Yang providing additional support. The group will coordinate with various parties, including government recruiters, the NSF and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to identify top students and secure internships and careers in the executive branch of the federal government.

To learn more about the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program, visit nsf.gov.

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