Nearly 60 Florida State University graduate students in computer science will serve on America's front line of defense in protecting the nation's information infrastructure from cyberterrorism.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $1.85 million grant to FSU's Department of Computer Science to provide funding for scholarships for about 15 students each year for the next four years in exchange for paid employment at a federal agency following graduation. Offered by the NSF and co-sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, the Scholarship for Service program requires students to work for the government for a period equivalent to the length of their scholarship, typically two years.
"There is a critical national shortage of employees who are adequately educated and trained in the cybersecurity area," said Harris Professor Mike Burmester, the lead researcher on the grant. "The growth of the Internet and its infusion into nearly every aspect of our lives presents a target opportunity for adversaries. It is essential to develop new operational doctrines, cyberwarfare capabilities and trained professionals to maintain our national infrastructure including our banking system, stock exchange, power grid and military operations."
It's no surprise that the federal government turned to Florida State to help build the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, said Burmester, who also serves as director of the department's Center for Security and Assurance in IT (C-SAIT). The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Florida State as a Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education in 2001 and an Information Assurance Center of Academic Excellence in Research in 2009. There are only 38 U.S. institutions with both designations, and FSU is the only one in Florida.
"This grant reflects well on Florida State's national reputation in the field of information assurance and offers a tremendous opportunity for graduate students interested in serving the nation while pursuing careers in this field," said Professor David Whalley, chair of the computer science department