The National Science Foundation is awarding Virginia Tech almost $4 million to create a scholarship program targeting third-year undergraduates in the College of Engineering's Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and in the Department of Computer Science who are interested in cyber security.

Each scholarship recipient in this CyberScholars Program would receive three years of funding, applied to the costs of the junior and senior year at Virginia Tech, as well as the additional year needed to obtain a master's degree. The participants will graduate with a master's degree in computer science or in computer engineering, with a graduate certificate in either cyber security or in information assurance.

"This program will provide a major advancement in cyber security education at Virginia Tech. By incentivizing study in cyber security and in federal employment, we can broaden the pool of qualified civil servants to meet the demands of a cyber-enabled environment," said Joseph G. Tront, professor of electrical and computer engineering and the director of education for the university's Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

The Hume Center heads Virginia Tech's educational and research programs in national security, and has taken a leading role in the university's growth in cyber security.

Students who participate in the program will be expected to partake in activities associated with Virginia Tech's Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence and with the National Security Agency's Center for Academic Excellence. They will also engage in research in one of the six university cyber research laboratories, be involved in the Virginia Tech Cyber Club and in the cyber security student competitions that are part of the U.S. Cyber Challenge.

The scholarship program will also offer federal internships and full-time placement within a federal agency upon graduation, Tront added. After completion of their degrees, Cyberscholars will be required to "payback" their scholarships by working in a position related to the federal, state, or local governments efforts to implement cybersecurity across the nation.

Members of the Hume Center, part of the Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, will support the management of the awarding of the scholarships. It will work with the Center for Enhancement of Engineering Diversity to recruit and retain students from underrepresented populations.

Charles Clancy, director of the Hume Center, and Kristie Cooper, director of the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Virginia Tech, will work with Tront on the CyberScholars Program.

With the support of the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence program, students already have access to a wide range of national security-related activities on campus, ranging from guest speakers to internship opportunities, and even a summer study abroad program. This NSF award will greatly enhance the existing opportunities and produce graduates who focus on the technical aspects of protecting the nations information systems.

The Hume Center was started within the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2010 with a generous gift from Ted Hume, a 1975 electrical engineering alumnus, and his wife Karyn. The center has since expanded its mission and grown to become  supported by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, a university-level institute.

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