Applying Student Knowledge for Success in Cybersecurity and Data Science

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project will contribute to the national need for well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need at Kean University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Brookdale Community College, and Union County College. In particular, it responds to areas of national need in cybersecurity and data science by increasing the number of students graduating in Computer Science (CS) and Information Technology (IT). Moreover, the project will build regional workforce strength and contribute to the knowledge base on the role of student competence and belonging in ensuring persistence to degree attainment. Over its five-year duration, a total of 256 students will benefit, receiving scholarships to complete CS or IT degrees. Project components include scholarship support for students, undergraduate research and/or professional experience opportunities prior to graduation, and generation of new knowledge through research on economic realities for students and impact on career trajectories in cybersecurity and data science. Students in this program will be prepared to enter the scientific workforce or graduate school as competent, highly trained individuals with a background in teamwork and research. Furthermore, they will contribute to increased professional diversity in the fields of CS and IT, and serve as role models to members of their communities.

The students recruited for this program will participate in workshops, take advantage of cohort experiences, and interact closely with faculty who will provide i) academic advising, ii) guidance for navigating higher education and postgraduate opportunities, and iii) supervision of teamwork, research, and working professional experiences. Through undergraduate research opportunities and experiences from participation in faculty research programs and/or existing summer research and internship programs, these individual and cohort experiences will provide a basis for overall intellectual growth and promote increased student confidence, retention, and timely degree completion. These academic outcomes are in turn expected to allow students to successfully navigate common attrition points including financial hardship and professional identity development for post-graduate employment and continued education. The project's academic environment includes student-faculty advising and undergraduate research activities, using the Affinity Research Group (ARG) model and peer-mentoring. The use of teamwork, collaboration and student-motivated question and answer sessions will positively support research in the field of computer science and information technology regarding educational impact and retention, particularly for minorities, female, and first-generation students. This project is funded by NSF's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program, which seeks to increase the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields. It also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers, and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic/career pathways of low-income students.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date10/15/219/30/26


  • National Science Foundation: $1,384,756.00
  • National Science Foundation: $1,384,756.00


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