NSF scholarship for service awards announced at information security colloquium

May 21, 2001

National Science Foundation (NSF) director Rita Colwell today announced NSF's first Scholarship for Service program awards to six institutions as part of an interagency, public/private effort to meet the nationwide needs for computer security and information assurance professionals.

The new scholarships, which will be awarded through Carnegie Mellon, Iowa State and Purdue Universities, the Universities of Idaho and Tulsa, and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California, will provide more than $8.6 million in first-year funding to educate and develop these new professionals for careers in the government or private sector.

Colwell made the announcement of NSF's scholarship awards at the 5th National Colloquium for Information System Security Education (NCISSE) being held at George Mason University's Fairfax, Virginia campus this week.

The new scholarship program responds, in part, to a 1997 presidential commission formed to answer critical computer and information system infrastructure protection issues. The commission's conclusions led to a 1998 presidential directive that cited information and communications infrastructure protection and security as a national priority. The directive set broad guidelines for meeting security challenges facing the nation. The NCISSE was formed shortly afterward from government, industry and academic representatives to address the nation's information security and infrastructure challenges.

At last year's annual colloquium event in Washington D.C., NSF was asked to take the lead in establishing the Scholarship for Service program so that colleges and universities could provide the education needed to produce a cadre of information security and assurance professionals who will commit to federal service after receiving college degrees. The National Science Board (NSB) approved an NSF plan for awarding the scholarships at the July 2000 NSB meeting. A few months later, Congress approved funding for the scholarships as part of NSF's 2001 budget.

"These scholarships will encourage young people to enter the field of information security and assurance, and give them an opportunity to put their talents to work at the front lines of government cyber security efforts," Colwell said.

Under the scholarship program, students selected by universities will be prepared to receive bachelors' degrees in information assurance and computer security. The students will have internship opportunities with federal agencies, and then upon graduation, work for the federal government on a basis of one year of service for each year of scholarship education received. The demand for information security professionals is becoming so high that government officials expect that some scholarship graduates may leave for the private sector after their initial federal commitments. However, many other graduates are expected to stay with the government, providing a cadre of young professionals to make a significant contribution to federal security programs over the long term. The federal Office of Personnel Management will manage the placement of interns and graduates from the scholarship program. The universities selected to receive the NSF scholarship monies have been named Centers for Excellence by the National Security Agency, as established by the presidential directive.

NSF will announce another series of "capacity building" awards by early summer. Some of the anticipated $1.6 million for these awards will be directed toward developing faculty instructional capabilities in information assurance and computer security. Another portion will provide many institutions not currently certified as Centers of Excellence the opportunity to develop their own information assurance programs.
Attachment: Summary of Scholarship for Service Institutional Awards. For more information see: http://www.ncisse.org and http://www.ncisse.org/Conference2001/agenda.htm


National Science Foundation

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