A team of computer science faculty from The University of Texas at El Paso has been awarded a highly competitive $3.9 million Scholarship For Service (SFS) grant from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security. The funding will give scholarships to 28 bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. computer science students over the next five years.
“The project will open significant opportunities to UTEP students with an interest in software engineering and cyber-security, particularly in areas such as defense, energy, communication, transportation and manufacturing,” said UTEP Vice President for Research Roberto Osegueda, Ph.D.
The UTEP grant team, led by Associate Professor of Practice and Director of the Master of Science in Software Engineering Program Salamah I. Salamah, Ph.D., includes Ann Q. Gates, Ph.D., professor and department chair; Assistant Professor Christopher Kiekintveld, Ph.D.; and Associate Professor Luc Longpré, Ph.D.
The project’s goals are to increase the number of qualified students who complete advanced degrees with a specialization in cyber-security. Graduate students will enter the workforce with the ability to transfer state-of-the-art cyber-security techniques and approaches into practice.
Each student will be funded for up to three years and will receive a stipend of $34,000 (graduate students) and $22,500 (undergraduates), $4,000 for travel and professional development, $2,000 for books and supplies, and $3,000 for medical insurance. Tuition and fees also will be paid for these students. Students will commit to work for two years in government positions that utilize their knowledge and capabilities in cyber-security.
UTEP is one of six universities to be awarded an SFS grant in this funding cycle. It is now one of only 63 universities nationwide that are part of CyberCorps, which was established by the SFS program in 2000.
“This prestigious award will prepare students for careers in federal, state and tribal agencies in the area of cyber security and is the only program primarily focused on software engineering of secure cyber-systems in the state of Texas,” Salamah said. “The program will, no doubt, place UTEP in a great position to become a national leader in preparation of a workforce with expertise in this area. The NSF program officers who visited UTEP were impressed by UTEP’s leadership, facilities, campus-wide cyber-security efforts, and most importantly, our students. This played a major role in securing this award.”
Over the past several years, UTEP’s computer science department has established a strong program in the area of cyber security, introducing tracks for both undergraduates and graduate students in secure cyber-systems. Gates was recognized with a 2015 Great Minds in STEM Education Award, while the University has been certified as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.