CYBERSECURITY EDUCATIONStrengthening Cybersecurity Scholarship and Education

Published 1 February 2022

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $3.9 million to Georgia State University as part of its CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. The grant will fund a project that aims to address the growing need for a highly skilled national cybersecurity workforce.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $3.9 million to Georgia State Universityas part of its CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. The grant will fund a project that aims to address the growing need for a highly skilled national cybersecurity workforce capable of responding to rapidly evolving challenges in the age of artificial intelligence (AI). Georgia State is one of eight new grantees joining the 82 universities that are currently part of the NSF program.

“As cyber threats continue to evolve in complexity, so must our approaches to cybersecurity education and our workforce,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the NSF. “The cybersecurity talent shortage remains a critical issue in the United States, with businesses and government agencies alike struggling to fill critical cybersecurity positions. These new CyberCorps Scholarship for Service projects engage diverse student populations and provide innovative and high-quality educational experiences that will ensure our nation is prepared to meet future cyberthreats with a well-trained workforce.”

The NSF program is meant to increase the volume and strength of the nation’s cybersecurity workforce by providing full scholarships and stipends to students who agree to work in cybersecurity jobs for federal, state, local or tribal governments after graduation. Over a five-year period, the project will provide scholarships to Georgia State students studying issues at the intersection of cybersecurity and AI. SFS students will be prepared with the knowledge and practical skills to apply AI expertise to cybersecurity and privacy problems; understand AI’s safety, security, privacy, reliability, fairness and ethical implications; and build robust and trustworthy AI systems.

Georgia State has established a strong curriculum in cybersecurity and privacy that balances technical rigor and hands-on experiences, offering students the opportunity to study various topics in cybersecurity and privacy. In 2020, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designated Georgia State as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research and a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education through 2025. These two designations place Georgia State among an elite group of universities that meet the federal government’s criteria for demonstrating a commitment to both cybersecurity research and training.

The project, a joint effort between the Department of Computer Science in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Computer Information Systems in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, will be led by the Information Security and Privacy: Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) center, which brings together researchers from units across campus.

“What sets Georgia State’s SFS program apart from similar programs is our focus on workforce training that integrates cybersecurity, privacy, AI and machine learning competencies,” said Daniel Takabi, associate professor of computer science, director of the INSPIRE center and the project’s principal investigator. “Our students will be capable of responding to rapidly evolving cybersecurity challenges in the age of AI.”

SFS students will participate in an intensive academic program in cybersecurity, privacy and trustworthy AI, including coursework and research in cutting-edge areas to sharpen their creative thinking. In addition, the SFS scholars will engage in experiential learning through opportunities for individual and group research projects and other extracurricular activities, which will provide deeply technical as well as interdisciplinary learning experiences and leadership development tailored to each student’s preparation and aspirations.

The university will contribute to the diversity of the national cybersecurity workforce by recruiting and graduating highly qualified candidates from groups that have remained underrepresented in the cybersecurity field, including those with military-affiliations, first-generation college attendees and low-income students.

“Georgia State’s SFS program leverages the university’s leadership in cybersecurity as well as our stature as a top minority-serving institution,” said Balasubramaniam Ramesh, co-principal investigator and Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Computer Information Systems. “We are excited by the opportunity to prepare minority, women and veteran students for NSF’s CyberCorps.”