Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology are working to combat threats to cybersecurity by training the next generation of experts in the field. With a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Missouri S&T’s computer science department will fund approximately 16 “Scholarship for Service” master of science and Ph.D. students, who will specialize in cybersecurity.
After graduating, the scholarship recipients will serve at a federal agency a period of time equal to the length of their scholarship.
The project, titled “MASTER: Missouri Advanced Security Training, Education and Research,” will be led by Dr. Dan Lin, assistant professor of computer science at Missouri S&T.
The MASTER program is part of the U.S. government’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS). Through this program, the National Science Foundation, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issues scholarship grants to attract students to the cybersecurity field.
The scholarships are designed to increase and strengthen cybersecurity professionals that protect the U.S. government. Colleges and universities can earn the grant only if they are certified by the National Security Agency as a National Center of Academic Excellence for Information Assurance Education. Missouri S&T was the first institution in the state to achieve that designation and has held the title since 2007.
“Cybersecurity is often taken for granted by Internet users,” says Lin. “If we didn’t have it, we would be lost. Banking, shopping and more would be impacted; it is not just something like social media concerns.”
The computer science department hopes to use this grant to promote its experiential learning opportunities. The MASTER program will also help the department recruit and retain more women and minority students.
“It is hard to find a place where we don’t use a computer nowadays. Every store, office and home has security needs,” says Dr. Sajal Das, the Daniel C. St. Clair Endowed Chair and professor and chair of computer science at Missouri S&T. “The workforce in cybersecurity is too small. There is a huge need to protect and develop online security.
“We envision the students as serving the U.S. through a stream program similar in style to the ROTC program we have here on campus,” Das adds.
For more information about the SFS program at Missouri S&T, visit http://web.mst.edu/~lindan/cybercorps/.