UCI has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide fellowships to graduate (MS and PhD) students whose education and/or research focus on Information Assurance (IA). IA is about building secure and trustworthy networks, computers, and information systems. It includes elements of computer and network security, embedded systems, hardware, databases, software engineering, operating systems, and many other topics. The fellowships are offered under the aegis of the NSF's Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. Each fellowship offers the following:
See below for a list of federal departments and agencies that have hired SFS students in the past. In return for the fellowship, students need to:
- Up to two (2) years of support, which includes: monthly stipend, tuition/fees as well as nominal room and board expenses.
- Paid summer internship in a federal agency.
- Placement in a federal government job at the end of the fellowship period.
For students that receive fellowship for a period less than 2 years, the work commitment is correspondingly reduced.
- Undertake a program of study that specializes in Information Assurance.
- Agree to work after graduation for up to two years in the Federal Cyber Service within the Federal Executive Branch at a Federal Agency, Independent Agency, Government Corporation, Commission, Quasi-Official Agency, or National Laboratory
- Undertake one (paid) summer internship in a similar federal agency as listed above.
Why Pursue Information Assurance Studies?
Networked information systems are playing increasingly important roles in critical infrastructures that support commerce, banking, telecommunication, health care, and national security. The spate of ``hacker attacks'' and the rising tide of spam, phishing and electronic crime as well as the threat of cyber-terrorism, highlight the vulnerabilities in today's systems and networks. In spite of substantial increases in public and private spending on computer security technologies, serious problems persist, as indicated by massive increases in the volume of security incidents.
Technical problems in Information Assurance are compounded by the acute shortage of qualified/trained IA professionals. This shortage is particularly severe in the federal government at a time when more and more of the government's operations are becoming dependent on networked computer systems. Recognizing this shortage, the National Science Foundation has introduced a special fellowship program that targets recruitment of students to specialize in information assurance and pursue a career in the federal government in this area.
Increasing emphasis on IA started a few years ago and shows every sign of robust growth for years to come, driven by increasing concern over security in the government, corporations, and the general public. Outsourcing is also a driving force: security jobs are unlikely to be outsourced overseas.
Graduates from the SFS program in other institutions have been hired in a number of departments in the federal government. The biggest employer of SFS students has been the National Security Agency (NSA), accounting for over 50% of the recruits in the past few years. Some of the other departments and agencies that have hired SFS students include: