Growing pains

New programs typically have growing pains, and the scholarship-for-service program is no exception. Students participating in the program are generally appreciative of the opportunity to learn cybersecurity skills, but some areas need attention, they say.

Awareness appears to be the biggest obstacle. Many agencies don't know the Cyber Corps exists. "We really need a Cyber Corps cheerleader," said Chris Rush, a program participant. The National Science Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management should "step in and create awareness in agencies," said Rush, who is finishing his graduate degree at Carnegie Mellon University and interning at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Rush lucked out on his internship. Michael Brown, now director of the FAA's Office of Information Systems Security, was chief information officer at the Army National Guard when Rush worked there. That connection helped Rush snag his summer job.

Others had similar experiences. Preston Gillmore, a graduate student at the University of Tulsa, managed to get an internship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology when he heard through a friend that the agency was hiring. Initially, Gillmore thought he would be flooded with requests, "but no one even knew what the Cyber Corps was."

NSF manages and awards the Cyber Corps grant money, and OPM is in charge of placing the students at agencies.

"We need to get the word out," agreed Dan Blair, deputy director of OPM, speaking at the 2002 Cyber Corps Symposium in Tulsa, Okla. OPM officials plan to work with the Human Resources Management Council and the Partnership for Public Service to increase awareness, Blair said at the symposium.

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