UMass Receives $4.4 Million NSF Grant to Play Leadership Role in Educating Future Cybersecurity Workforce
AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst will continue to play a lead role in protecting the nation’s computing networks and infrastructure through a $4.4 million federal grant to educate cybersecurity researchers and professionals and then place them in jobs throughout the federal government. The program provides generous financial support to help students launch their careers.
The university’s Cybersecurity Institute has secured a renewal of its CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). A team of cybersecurity researchers, led by the College of Information and Computer Science’s (CICS) Brian Levine, has received the five-year grant to continue the institute’s participation in the CyberCorps program, which began in 2015. Levine’s co-investigators include Marc Liberatore (CICS), as well as co-investigators Dan Holcomb and Wayne Burleson, both of the electrical and computer engineering department in the College of Engineering.
The grant will support approximately 31 scholars at the undergraduate and graduate levels in UMass Amherst’s nationally recognized computer science and electrical and computer engineering degree programs by offering them full tuition and fees, a stipend ranging from $25,000 per year for undergrads to $34,000 per year for graduate students, and a professional development fund for one to three years of their degree program. In addition, students complete an internship at a federal agency during the summers and upon graduation they will work full time at a federal agency in a cybersecurity role for one-to-three years at full pay and benefits.
“This is a unique and potentially life-changing program,” says Levine. “Students have the opportunity to study without bearing the burden of the cost of education, intern with a federal agency, and then move directly to a good job, working for the common good by serving with a federal agency of their choice after graduation.”
“In keeping with the CICS mission of ‘computing for the common good,’” says Laura Haas, dean of CICS, “UMass’s SFS program will not only continue to actively recruit and retain women and underrepresented minorities, it is redoubling its efforts to do so.” She noted that the program is working with a wide cohort of faculty and staff to actively recruit under-represented students from Bunker Hill Community College, Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts, as well as Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. The program also includes a partnership with the Collaborative for Educational Services, a Massachusetts-based non-profit that recruits high school students for STEM careers, and particularly those who are students of color or come from low-income backgrounds.
“This program,” says Sanjay Raman, dean of the College of Engineering, “will help create a new generation of cybersecurity professionals and researchers to address novel and challenging problems facing society. These students will help to modernize the Executive-branch workforce, advance science and technology at government laboratories, and secure our national defense.”
The program will prepare students for successful careers in cybersecurity through a combination of strong curricula, bespoke professional development, interdisciplinary enrichment, unique opportunities to perform research, and high-quality teaching. UMass Amherst’s research programs are among the best in the nation, a strength that informs its cutting-edge curriculum.
Acceptance into the SFS program is application-based and competitive. The application, full details, and all requirements can be found at UMass’s SFS program website.