A University of Tennessee at Chattanooga academic program dedicated to preparing future professionals to meet rapidly expanding needs in the field of cybersecurity has won renewed funding from the National Science Foundation’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service initiative.
The UTC program, “Collaborative Research: CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service: Strengthening the National Cybersecurity Workforce With Integrated Learning of AI/ML and Cybersecurity,” is among seven American university programs selected for renewed funding of more than $24 million from NSF over the next four years, the agency announced today.
The UTC program is overseen by Dr. Mengjun Xie, a UC Foundation Associate Professor and director of the UTC Information Security (InfoSec) Center: A National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.
“The successful renewal of the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service award symbolizes an impressive endorsement of our university and cybersecurity programs by the National Science Foundation,” Xie said. “This highly selective award demonstrates the exceptional quality and capacity of our cybersecurity education and research. The award will strengthen our stature as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and reinforce UTC’s commitment to enhancing the nation’s cybersecurity workforce and capacity through innovative educational programs and cutting-edge research.”
The UTC program was launched in 2017 with funding of $1.5 million from NSF’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service initiative. After graduation, former scholarship recipients are required to work “in the cybersecurity mission of a federal, state, local or tribal government organization” or other designated entities for a period equal to the length of the scholarship, according to NSF. UTC program alumni have gone on to careers with TVA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, among other federal agencies, said UTC Professor of Computer Science Hong Qin.
“The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UTC takes pride in the SFS Cyber Corps program, recognizing it as an extraordinary opportunity for our students who are committed to national service. Through this program, we endeavor to enhance awareness of the rapidly expanding field of cybersecurity, emphasize its critical role in our digital world and encourage more students to journey into this rewarding career path,” Qin said.
“Furthermore, the synergy between cybersecurity, AI (artificial intelligence), quantum computing and the Chattanooga Quantum Initiative presents exceptional opportunities for regional economic growth. This initiative aligns with our continual efforts to attract a diverse talent pool and boost enrollment in our department, ultimately strengthening our community of aspiring cybersecurity professionals. Our aim is to shape a future where our graduates are at the forefront of advancing cybersecurity, contributing not just to the safety of our digital spaces, but also to regional and national economic prosperity.”
For more than 20 years, NSF’s CyberCorps SFS program has developed the U.S. cybersecurity workforce and aligns with the White House’s newly released “National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy: Unleashing America’s Cyber Talent,” the agency stated in an announcement earlier today.
NSF’s funding renewal builds on $29 million in funding announced earlier this year.
“Cybersecurity is critical to our nation’s economic and national security. Through this program, NSF has helped more than 4,500 students get the degrees they need to be part of the cybersecurity workforce and helped them give back through public service,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “With this announcement, NSF reaffirms its commitment to invest in institutions that have demonstrated exceptional success and innovative advancements to their existing projects with the aim of fostering a robust workforce and growing interest in cybersecurity careers.”
UTC is among 98 institutions currently participating in the CyberCorps SFS program across 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.