NSF awards Pitt $1 million to develop cybersecurity professionals

12 scholarships awarded for Security Assured Information Systems program

To protect the global cyberspace community, the National Science Foundation (NSF) wants to ensure that the pool of qualified information assurance (IA) professionals is adequate. To that end, the NSF is funding a $1 million scholarship program for the Security Assured Information Systems (SAIS) track of study at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Information Sciences (SIS).

Over a period of four years, the scholarship program will support three cohorts of four SIS graduate students in their pursuit of graduate degrees, either in information science or telecommunications and networking with the SAIS track option. Pitt has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

The program seeks to address the growing need for a workforce trained in the development, design, and implementation of secure information systems. Graduates of the SAIS track will be qualified to manage the security of large networks and infrastructures.

Scholarship recipients will benefit from SIS' multidisciplinary educational environment combined with a high-quality IA curriculum, which is one of only eight in the nation to receive certification in all five national IA educational standards set by the Committee on National Systems Security. The IA curriculum emphasizes development of critical thinking, teamwork within a multidisciplinary environment, both oral and written communication, and effective leadership skills. With the goal of seeking a balance between the theoretical and practical aspects of IA, students are challenged in their courses with projects that allow them to engage in hands-on applications of the latest IA technologies.

The NSF grant was awarded to a team of SIS educators: principal investigator (PI) James B.D. Joshi, assistant professor of information science and telecommunications, and co-PIs Prashant Krishnamurthy, associate professor of telecommunications and networking; Michael Spring, associate professor of information science; and David Tipper, associate professor of telecommunications. In 2004, Joshi and the other members of the SIS faculty received a $286,000 NSF Federal Cyber Service Scholarship for Service grant to create a curriculum in SAIS.

On a broader social level, the scholarship program will emphasize diversity in its recruitment efforts through its relationships with minority postsecondary institutions. A goal of at least 30 percent of the eventual graduates will come from groups that heretofore have been underrepresented in the IA field, including women, minorities, and students with disabilities, in order to ensure a more diverse and wide-ranging pool of qualified IA professionals to serve the global community's cyberspace security needs.

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For more information on the SAIS program at SIS, visit the Laboratory of Education and Research on Security Assured Information Systems Web site at www.sis.pitt.edu/~lersais.

The School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh is one of the nation's pioneering schools in the education of information professionals, with a history that reaches back more than 100 years. Throughout that century of service, the school has built and maintained a tradition of excellence and innovation in education, research, and professional activities pertaining to the information sciences. The school offers degree-granting programs in information sciences, library and information science, and telecommunications. The SIS faculty, staff, students, and programs--uniquely interdisciplinary, multicultural, and international by design--are dedicated to building a global society and an informed citizenry based on access to reliable and useful information.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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