NSF money helps expand pipeline for federal cybersecurity workforce

UTSA undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity students will receive up to $56,000 during their last two years of study to cover tuition and fees, room and board, books, and additional expenses. In exchange, students must agree to work as cybersecurity specialists for the federal government for two years following graduation. USTA is one of 34 institutions that participate in the NSF’s Federal Cyber Service: Scholarship for Service program.

"Ninety-nine percent of the students who go through this program find immediate placement in federal jobs following graduation," said Kleanthis Psarris, professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Computer Science, who will oversee the program along with Greg White, associate professor of computer science and director of the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS).

Beginning in the fall 2011, UTSA will recruit seven computer science students to join the program each semester. Students will pursue a degree with a concentration in cyber or information security and must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Scholarships for Service applicants must be US citizens who can pass a background check and are eligible for federal employment.

The NSF program is designed to expand the pipeline of new cybersecurity talent to the federal government. This is one of four challenges to expanding the federal cybersecurity workforce identified by Booz Allen Hamilton in a 2009 study. The other challenges are the fragmented governance and uncoordinated federal government leadership on the cybersecurity workforce, the complicated processes and rules hampering recruitment and retention efforts, and a disconnect between frontline hiring manages and government human resources specialists.

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