Carnegie Mellon University
September 02, 2014

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Receives $5.6M NSF Grant for Cybersecurity Education

Contact: Sherry Stokes / 412-268-5976 /

Cybersecurity imagePITTSBURGH—The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Carnegie Mellon University a $5.6 million grant through the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS), a federal program that aims to strengthen the workforce charged with protecting the nation’s critical information infrastructure.

The SFS program has funded full-tuition scholarships and stipends for graduate students in information security at Carnegie Mellon for more than a decade through awards totaling more than $21.6 million. Eligible students must be U.S. citizens and accepted into graduate programs in information security or information security policy at either the College of Engineering or the Heinz College. The SFS scholars must commit to federal employment after graduation, typically for a period of two years.

In total, 157 SFS scholars have graduated from Carnegie Mellon and gone on to apply their technology and policy expertise in positions with the federal government, such as the Department of Defense, Department of Justice and national laboratories.

A 2014 graduate, Allison Boos accepted a job as an IT specialist in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. Through the SFS program, she studied information security at the College of Engineering’s Information Networking Institute (INI) and completed a summer internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s National Incident Response Team.

“The experience of being an SFS student not only provided me with the education and skills inherent in a Carnegie Mellon education but also surrounded me with others with similar interests and goals, establishing a network that is both personally and professionally beneficial,” Boos said

While at Carnegie Mellon, SFS students meet recruiters from organizations such as the FBI and Sandia National Laboratories and may network with other students bound for federal employment. The Department of Defense Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP) is another program for which the INI’s information security graduates are eligible, and it has provided full-tuition scholarships and stipends for one graduate and three current students to date.

INI Director Dena Haritos Tsamitis, principal investigator of the SFS and IASP, reports that the most recent award is the largest received to date. In addition to the SFS scholarships, the grant also will support Carnegie Mellon’s participation in collaborative research in the Information Security Research and Education (INSuRE) program with other institutions.

Under Tsamitis’ leadership, Carnegie Mellon has earned three distinct cybersecurity designations from federal agencies: Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Education; CAE in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Research; and CAE in Cyber Operations. The designations allow faculty and students to participate in the INSuRE program, the SFS program, the IASP and the Information Assurance Capacity Building Program (IACBP).

Approximately 40 minority-serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI), have participated in the IACBP at Carnegie Mellon to develop and advance information assurance curricula at their home institutions. As a result of their IACBP participation, several institutions have gone on to earn CAE designation.

“Our graduates in information security are sought after by employers and our research activities at CyLab are discussed by leaders and innovators in the areas of threat analysis, software security, cryptography, privacy, risk management and other areas,” said James H. Garrett Jr., dean of the College of Engineering and the Thomas Lord Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “The SFS scholarship funds and new collaborative research opportunities are much appreciated by and a great fit for our faculty and students.”