$4 million NSF grant for cybersecurity education at Tech

Tennessee Tech’s Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center received a grant from the National Science Foundation for nearly $4 million to establish the Tennessee CyberCorps: Scholarship For Service program. To date, this is one of the largest grants Tennessee Tech University has ever received.

Tech has the only CyberCorps program in Tennessee, and is one of 63 such programs in the U.S.

Ambareen Siraj

Ambareen Siraj

“This makes TTU one of the highly visible cyber defense education programs in the country,” said Ambareen Siraj, director of Tech’s cybersecurity center. The NSF grant is under the direction of computer science professors Ambareen Siraj, Doug Talbert and Mohammad A. Rahman.

According to Siraj, other universities had to apply multiple times before receiving a CyberCorps grant, but Tech “got it the first time.” The lead program director for the granting agency doubled the budget requested for Tech’s request because of his impression of the quality program Tech offered.

All students are required to participate in service learning projects in education, research, and work a paid summer internship with a government agency or federally funded research and development center. Following graduation, each student must work for a government agency for each of the years he or she received the scholarship.

In addition to large stipends – $22,500 a year for undergraduates; $34,000 for graduate students – students in the program will be provided with benefits including full tuition and money for books.

“This grant will allow the Tennessee Tech College of Engineering to elevate the value and skills our graduates bring to the workforce already,” said Joseph Rencis, dean of the College of Engineering. “I am particularly gratified that we will be able to attract the best and brightest students to help ensure our nation’s infrastructure stays secure.”

In November 2015, the National Security Agency and the United States Department of Homeland Security designated Tech as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, one of around 200 around the country.

“Our nation is in dire need of cybersecurity professionals at all levels and roles,” said Siraj. “It is our honor and privilege at Tennessee Tech to prepare students to serve the nation with this unique skill.”

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