Friday, September 30, 2011

A Full Ride, Living Stipend and a Job in Information Assurance

How does a full ride scholarship, a living stipend (because the funding organization wants you to work on research and studies) and employment once you’ve earned your degree sound? That’s what the Information Assurance Scholarship for Service program does, and is doing for two graduate students currently at the Institute of Technology. And there is more to come in the next three years.

To create a powerful incentive for students to enter the Information Assurance field, the Department of Defense is offering the program described above. As they put it:

Nearly every day, the United States faces growing threats and attacks against our critical government systems. DoD’s mission is to address the Nation’s urgent security challenges and to proactively seek solutions to protect and defend our information and information systems. One of the key security challenges DoD faces daily is assuring that the Department's information, information systems, and information infrastructure are protected and available in order to support the Department's transformation to a secure net–centric environment.

To continue to provide the growing number of trained personnel needed, DoD is working with universities across the country, known as, often referred to as CAEs, to develop and expand IA–related curricula and to offer programs of study for future IA professionals.

Universities must qualify in order to provide the scholarships and earn a National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance designation. Then that university has to pass muster during an NSF (National Science Foundation) site visit to be vetted to provide that opportunity. If you would like to apply for the scholarship, you must attend a qualifying institution.

As it happens the University of Washington has qualified as one of the universities to offer it. Last June, led by Dr Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, the Director of Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the UW, the site visit by the NSF was conducted and included visits to the Institute of Technology at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

The visit was such a success that they asked that Barbara increase the budget in her proposal.

Three months later Barbara sent out the announcement:
The NSF has officially awarded us $2.1M to fully fund 18 graduate-level scholars over the next 4 years to fully immerse in information assurance (IA) studies! Further, we received an additional $ ½ M on top!! This truly launches us on the national scene as a significant IA presence in the Northwest and in the field at large!
There are only 30+ schools in the US who have had similar awards, our sister iSchool—Syracuse University—being one of them, along with CMU, Johns Hopkins and Purdue. There are only 200+ such scholars in the US at any one time—we’ll have 4 this year—we are in elite company!!

Once again I am reminded of the strengths we have in the South Puget Sound to help generate success in research and technology in the area of Information Assurance and Cybersecurity. With our partners in academia to the North, and in particular UW Seattle’s Information School, we can be part of future solutions to the challenges described on the CISC (Center of Information Assurance and Cybersecurity) site:

The challenges of information assurance are not going to be solved easily, quickly, or independently. Solutions will require new research, new capabilities, new products and services, a spectrum of broadly and specially educated professionals, a much more aware public, and much innovation and broad collaboration. Washington is a convergence of international commerce, military defense, and network-based software development. As such, it is both vulnerable to disruption, and is the home of a spectrum of professional talent and organizations that can be well served by the presence of a national center of excellence.

If you are interested in applying for the program, consider applying to the graduate program at the Institute of Technology at the UW Tacoma or the Information School at the UW Seattle.

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