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Oct 06, 2014 03:16 PM EDT

UT Dallas Cybersecurity Scholarship Program Receives $3.9 Million Award

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A cybersecurity scholarship program at the University of Texas at Dallas has received an award of more than $3.9 million from the National Science Foundation, school officials announced.

With the donation, the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service program at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science can provide up to $ 46,000 per academic year to qualified undergraduate and graduate students pursuing computer science degrees related to cybersecurity.

"Our students and graduates are among the most proficient in the field," said Kamil Sarac, associate professor of computer science who is principal investigator and director of the UT Dallas' Scholarship for Service program, which started in 2010. "We are grateful to our program directors at the National Science Foundation for the past and future support of Scholarship for Service, and our new award means that we can now expand the public service component of the program."

The award includes a salary for the students, and can help cover tuition, books, health insurance, professional development and travel. In exchange for their scholarships, students are expected to serve within the federal government for a period equivalent to the length of their scholarship.

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, lead co-principal investigator of the award and executive director of the Cyber Security Research and Education Institute (CSI), said the program complements University research efforts.

"We are very pleased that Sarac is spearheading this critical component of the Cyber Security Research and Education Institute," Thuraisingham said. "We believe that a strong education program in cybersecurity is vital to our research program."

The university's cybersecurity education involves educators from throughout the University organized in the Cyber Security Research and Education Institute. Over the past decade, several new faculty members who teach courses and conduct research in all aspects of cybersecurity have been added.

"We have built a very strong cybersecurity team under the leadership of Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham," said Sarac. "I am not sure that such a rich set of faculty in this field exists at many other schools."

Sarac said the program will do more public outreach, such as mentoring and teaching basic cybersecurity defense skills to high school students, and conducting cybersecurity workshops at retirement communities.

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