CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (Renewal): Secure Computing Initiative

Project: Research project

Project Details


This New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) project will continue and expand the Secure Computing Initiative (SCI) as part of the CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. SCI is designed to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity professionals to fulfill the national need for cybersecurity experts, while promoting diversity, learning, and discovery. SCI has been successful in recruiting, training, and placing highly qualified cybersecurity experts in government positions since 2016. The SCI project recruits students in their junior or senior undergraduate year and supports them through the completion of one of two cybersecurity master's degrees offered at NJIT: MS in Cyber Security and Privacy or MS in Information Technology Administration and Security. The project also includes several activities to recruit a diverse student body, such as working with the NJIT's Murray Center for Women in Technology to enhance gender diversity, collaborating with the NJIT chapters of Hispanic and African American professional societies to enhance racial/ethnic diversity, and cooperating with the NJIT's Educational Opportunity Program office to recruit students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

The SCI cybersecurity education model is characterized by seven features: flexible cybersecurity curricula, experiential learning, research-supported education, nurturing students' creativity, a cybersecurity technology watch activity, fostering students' abilities to work under stress, and multi-tier mentoring. NJIT has a strong commitment to cybersecurity education, demonstrated by more than 40 courses that focus on this area. As a result, NJIT's undergraduate and graduate programs allow the SCI students flexibility in choosing their area of cybersecurity specialization. In addition, SCI incorporates experiential learning projects that map to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce framework. SCI scholars are required to participate in a research project with a mentor drawn from a pool of research-active faculty who teach and conduct research in cybersecurity. Creativity is stimulated through training in design-thinking approaches for research projects and working in interdisciplinary teams. To keep the students abreast of evolving cybersecurity threats, SCI organizes a cybersecurity technology watch, which consists of investigating recent cybersecurity breaches, analyzing them, and drawing lessons from them. To develop appropriate skills for work under stress, the SCI students participate in cybersecurity competitions, in which they typically have to solve practical problems in a limited amount of time. Finally, SCI is structured for a multi-tier mentoring approach that includes guidance/feedback both from the PIs and peers serving as mentors. In addition to training the next generation cybersecurity workforce, SCI also produces scientific results and publicly available software that helps advance the discipline of cybersecurity. Many of the SCI activities involve contact with the general public and are likely to sensitize society at large to the importance of cybersecurity. The outreach activities also include enrichment programs that focus on cybersecurity education for high school students.

This project is supported by the CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service (SFS) program, which funds proposals establishing or continuing scholarship programs in cybersecurity and aligns with the U.S. National Cyber Strategy to develop a superior cybersecurity workforce. Following graduation, scholarship recipients are required to work in cybersecurity for a federal, state, local, or tribal Government organization for the same duration as their scholarship support.

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 date8/1/217/31/26


  • National Science Foundation: $2,641,004.00


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