NSF Federal Cyber Service: SFS

 

Opportunities in Computer Security and Information Assurance


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What the Federal CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program offers

The University of Idaho has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that provides support for outstanding students studying in all fields of information assurance, including computer security, network security, computer forensics, forensic accounting, secure communications and cryptography. The NSF Federal CyberCorps Program offers Scholarship for Service (SFS) fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students studying Computer Science or Computer Engineering at the University of Idaho. All students receive fellowship stipends and all tuition and fees.

The SFS program awards new fellowships each semester, but the application process is competitive, so applicants should submit their materials at least four months prior to their desired start. Students can be in the program for one to three years, but are required to graduate within that time frame and then begin a period of paid service to the Federal Government equal to the time for which they received scholarship support.

Both graduate and undergraduate fellowships are allowed, but all participants must be enrolled full-time in a degree seeking program that results in a BS MS or PhD degree within two to three years (see details below) of the initial date of scholarship funding. Only students enrolled in Computer Science or Computer Engineering programs are eligible. All students will be completing normal University of Idaho degrees, but there will be additional activities that are specially created for SFS students.


Scholarship Benefits

Each student in the program will be supported for three years with up to $40,000 of benefits each year.

  • A student pursuing a BS will be provided a $20,000 a year stipend, and must complete their studies within 2 years of starting the program.
  • A student pursuing an MS will be provided a $25,000 a year stipend, and must complete their studies within 2 years of starting the program.
  • A student pursuing both a BS and MS degree will be provided a $20,000 annual stipend for their BS program and $25,000 annual stipend for their MS program. They must complete their studies for both degrees within 3 years of starting the program.
  • A student pursuing a PhD will be provided a $30,000 annual stipend, and must complete their studies within 3 years of starting the program.

  • Additional support funds will be provided to cover university provided medical plan (up to $600 per year), and for a book allowance of up to $500 per semester.
  • All applicable tuition and fees, including any out-of-state and graduate student fees, will be paid on behalf of the scholarship recipients. This support is provided in addition to the stipend.
  • Each student will be assigned to exploratory research projects investigating issues on information assurance, as conducted by the faculty in Computer Science and Computer Engineering. The faculty member leading the research project will serve as the SFS student's mentor assigned to that project.

Requirements and Eligibility

The requirements for each student in the program and the eligibility criteria are:

  • Each student must be a United States citizen.
  • Each student must be a full time student within two (three) years of graduation at the University of Idaho with either a Baccalaureate or Master's degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering or Accounting.
  • Each student must meet selection criteria for US government employment. Final job placement may require security clearances, so each scholarship recipient may be required to undergo the background investigation required to obtain such clearances.
  • During the summer between the acadmic years in the program, each student will be placed into an internship position at a government agency or federally funded project.
  • Upon graduation, each student will be required to work for up to three years at a government agency (federal, state, local, tribal or FFRDC). The period of government service matches the scholarship support period.

Application Process

Each applicant to the SFS program should provide the following:

  • Undergraduate Students
    • Letter expressing interest in the SFS program that states your citizenship status and indicates an understanding of the two year degree seeking nature of the program, the mandatory summer internship, and the service commitment to the government after graduation. This letter can be sent via email.
    • Copy of transcripts of all college work.
    • Statement of purpose and description of goals in your Computer Science, Computer Engineering or Accounting BS degree program, and the field of interest within Information Assurance. This letter can be sent via email.
    • Recommendation letters from at least two faculty members or employment managers familiar with your background.
    • Official application and acceptance into Compter Science, Computer Engineering or Accounting at the University of Idaho. You can apply to the UI undergraduate program.
  • Graduate Students
    • Letter expressing interest in the SFS program that states your citizenship status and indicates an understanding of the two year degree seeking nature of the program, the mandatory summer internship, and the service commitment to the government after graduation. This letter can be sent via email.
    • Copy of transcripts of all college work.
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (for CS and CompE majors) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) scores (for Accounting Majors).
    • Statement of purpose and description of goals in your Computer Science, Computer Engineering or Accounting MS degree program, and the field of interest within Information Assurance. This letter can be sent via email.
    • Recommendation letters from at least two faculty members or employment managers familiar with your background.
    • Official application and acceptance into the graduate program in Compter Science, Computer Engineering or Accounting at the University of Idaho. You can apply to the UI graduate program.
    • Graduate applicants should have their GRE scores or GMAT scores sent directly to the UI College of Graduate Studies.

Interested students should apply to:

Scholarship for Service
Department of Computer Science
PO Box 441010
University of Idaho
Moscow, ID 83844-1010

Or send electronically to:

jimaf@uidaho.edu

Criteria for Selection

The selection criteria are as follows:

  • Undergraduate Students
    • United States citizen.
    • Advanced sophomore standing with the ability to graduate within two years.
    • Official acceptance into an approved undergraduate UI SFS program (CS, CompE, Acctng).
    • A cumulative GPA of not less than 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Evaluation of the statement of purpose and description of goals in chosen major.
    • Recommendation letters from at least two faculty members or employment managers.
  • Graduate Students
    • United States citizen.
    • Official acceptance into an approved graduate UI SFS program (CS, CompE, Acctng).
    • Expected graduation with MS degree within two years.
    • Cumulative GPA of not less than 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Evaluation of the studentís statement of purpose. Candidates for a graduate degree must write a statement of purpose about their goals in the SFS program and graduate school.
    • Recommendation letters from at least two faculty members or employment managers.

In addition, we will consider the following criteria for both undergraduate and graduate candidates:

  • Commitment to participate in summer service and service following degree completion according to the guidelines of the SFS program.
  • Commitment to participate in assessment activities after their scholarship and required government service has ended.
  • Demonstrated leadership, participation in team activities, prior social service, and/or evidence of creative and independent thinking and/or behavior.

Selection Process and Deadlines

UI faculty who are principle investigators of the NSF grant will review all applications and interview likely candidates, either in person or by telephone. The selection process will end when the panel selects the students to be admitted on the basis of application data and the interview. During this selection process, the student's interests, goals, and requests will be used to match each scholarship student with an appropriate faculty mentor. Each student will be included in a research project during their first year of support. Final approval of accepted applicants must be certified by OPM.

Applicants interested in entering the program can use the following dates as guidelines. Applicants are accepted into the program on a competitive, space-available basis. The SFS panel reviews applications periodically, starting in January. Incomplete applications are not reviewed.

  • Applications for candidates who wish to begin the SFS program in Fall Semester (August) will be accepted until February 1, or until the fellowship positions are filled.
  • Appications for candidates who wish to begin the SFS program in Spring Semester (January) will be accepted until October 1, or until the fellowship positions are filled.
  • Applications requesting a summer semester start will be deferred to Fall Semester.

Special Activities and Programs for SFS students

Key components of the SFS program, in addition to the normal classroom and laboratory experiences contained in the undergraduate and graduate curricula, are:

  • Faculty with considerable experience in working with undergraduate and graduate students in a teaching and research environment.
  • Integration of students in existing research programs in Information Assurance.
  • An SFS Seminar emphasizing critical thinking, leadership, presentation, and publication skills.
  • As a complement to hands-on research, a series of Technical Seminars, that will allow students to interact with experts in the field of information assurance.
  • An ethics component, in the form of an integrated sequence of lectures and discussion sections to be led by senior investigators with considerable expertise in this area.
  • Development of professional skills through lectures, mentoring, a training series, and experience.
  • The service aspect, coordinated by OPM, where students will serve in a government agency during the summer between their first and second years in SFS. This service experience will give them an opportunity to solve specific real problems in information assurance.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I have to be a UI student to apply? No, but you must be accepted at UI prior to starting the scholarship program.
  • What degree programs are approved for the SFS fellowship? Only BS and MS degrees in Computer Science, Computer Engineering or Accounting are approved in the NSF grant.
  • Can I apply if I have an Associate's degree? Yes. The only credit requirement is that you be able to complete your degree within two years. The issue is not total credits but rather how any transfer credits will apply to your degree program. You should visit the web pages of the department responsible for your chosen degree to review the actual curriculum of that degree.
  • Am I required to work for two years even if I can obtain my degree faster? No. The work requirement is a one for one match between the time you are supported and the time you are asked to work. So if you are supported for three semesters, then you would have a work obligation of one and a half years.
  • Can I apply for this program if I am interested in a PhD degree in computer science? No. Only B.S. and M.S. degrees are available through this program.
  • How do I find a federal job or internship? Read this document. from Jeremy Duffy and Tom Taylor (both are SFS scholars).

Information Assurance Research at the
University of Idaho

The University of Idaho has been designated as a National Security Agency Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education, and a National Science Founcation CyberCorps school. Research in Information Assurance involves many departments on campus, including Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Business and Accounting. Research sponsors include: NSA, NSF, NASA, TriGeo, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory, Inc., Army Research Office, DARPA, Hewlett-Packard and INEEL. Examples of externally funded Information Assurance research at the UI include:

  • For reliability and distributed computing sytems, we perform protocol analysis to identify potential security weaknesses and communications strategies and examine issues in development of dynamically configurable networked systems.
  • For the protection of systems in hostile environments, we model cyber threats and attacks in order to devise appropriate safeguards and countermeasures appropriate to protecting both small and widespread enterprises from large scale attacks as well as develop models for improved reliability.
  • For detection and prevention of information and network intrusion, we have developed methodologies in collaborative intrustion detection and misuse investigation; as part of this effort we develop, document, test, and measure engineering practices and software tools and techniques that ensure secure and dependable software systems.

Useful Web Links


updated 10/27/2006.