Scholarship program funded, ramped up

National Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education

The National Science Foundation has tapped 13 schools to receive $19 million to expand the Scholarship for Service program — a move that will increase the number of students and universities in the program.

The program gives scholarships to graduate and undergraduate students studying information assurance in exchange for a one- or two-year stint in the federal Cyber Corps after graduation.

President Bush approved $19.3 million last August when he signed the fiscal 2002 supplemental appropriations bill. NSF announced Feb. 14 that it will use the money to launch the scholarship program at four more institutions and enable the nine schools already in the program to add about 10 students each.

This infusion of money will double the number of participating students to about 300 and will focus primarily on preparing students with bachelor's and master's degrees in critical information security fields.

Congress recognizes the importance of boosting the program and training as many students as possible as cyber defenders, said Ernest McDuffie, Scholarship for Service program manager at NSF. "There is a certain urgency that is apparent. The whole nature of cyberspace and the terrorist threats that are out there are good cases in point."

The four new schools in the program are:

* Norwich University, Vt.

* Syracuse University, N.Y.

* Idaho State University.

* Florida State University.

Norwich University will receive $2.4 million to give scholarships to 10 juniors and 10 seniors in the next four years. Already two students have been tapped to receive the scholarship: Neil Larson, a junior electrical engineering major, and Ryan Muller, a junior computer science major.

Muller said the scholarship program was the reason he applied to Norwich University. He is looking forward to a summer internship most likely at the CIA, and then a year-and-a-half stint at the agency after he graduates, when he hopes to focus on his areas of interest: network security and artificial intelligence. Larson, a computer junkie with an affinity for computer hardware and research and development, also expects to be at the CIA.

Muller applied for the program not because of its link to the federal government, but because he wanted to work for a large company with many resources. "In that regard, it's a plus because [the government] has the resources in their labs to do cutting-edge research."

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