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DSU’s Cyber Corps Scholarship Program awarded $4.6 million from NSF

September 22, 2014

Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. announced that the Cyber Corps scholarship program was awarded $4.6 million through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The renewal grant is part of the NSF’s Scholarship for Service program and is one of the largest awards in that program to date.

The award spans a total of five years and will fund ten new Cyber Corps students each year until 2019. Students apply for the program in their sophomore year and are awarded the scholarship for their last three years at DSU. Many of the recipients are involved in the 4+1 program, which allows students to complete their bachelor’s degree in Cyber Operations and their master’s degree in Applied Computer Science in five years instead of the traditional six years. The award pays for the students’ tuition and fees for the year (up to 30 credits for undergraduate and 24 credits for graduate per year), $1000 for books, $1,200 for professional development, and a stipend of $20,000 for undergraduate students or $25,000 for graduate students per year.

Many students complete internships at various government agencies which can be local, state, tribal and federal. DSU sends students for internships anywhere from the SD Bureau of Information and Telecommunications in Pierre, S.D. to the National Security Agency or John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Upon graduation, Cyber Corps graduates find careers in many different government agencies, completing service for the same amount of time as their scholarship award.

Before landing their careers, Cyber Corps students attend a job fair in Washington, D.C. where the number of jobs in cyber security far outnumbers the students in attendance. This ratio of jobs to grads to fill them demonstrates the need for qualified cyber security experts still needed in the United States.

“DSU brings one of the largest groups of students to the job fair in D.C.,” said Dr. Josh Pauli. “The demand for highly educated cyber security professionals has never been higher, especially in the government sectors that the Cyber Corps helps meet. But every industry is directly impacted by cyber security, so it’s natural that the demand would continue to rise. So even if a student doesn’t go the Cyber Corps route, there are plenty of very high quality employment options waiting for them.”

The Cyber Corps program started at DSU in 2010 with one student awarded. Today it has grown to 26 students currently in the program with over 30 projected to be in the program once the new funding takes effect.

David Miller was one of the first students to be part of the Cyber Corps program and currently works at the South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications as a Technology Engineer, focusing on web security.

“Joining the Cyber Corps program at DSU was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” said Miller. “It drove me to be a better student and has opened some amazing doors. I love the passion and comradery it has brought to Dakota State.”

Along with funding the DSU Cyber Corps program, the grant will fund two other programs at Dakota State. The GenCyber summer camp for high school students interested in programming, networking and cyber security is funded by the NSF grant, along with participation with Purdue University in the Information Security Research and Education Network for graduate student research.