OU to receive National Science Foundation funding for cybersecurity research


Photo courtesy of National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation has allocated a scholarship for service grants to Oakland University for students in cybersecurity.

To address the demand of cybersecurity professionals in government, the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) has allocated a scholarship for service grants to Oakland University. The NSF investment is a perfect fit for the students of OU as the university was designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (NCAE-CD) by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency in 2018. 

The NSF plans to provide more than $29 million in scholarships to eight universities over the next five years. After graduation, scholarship recipients are required to work in cybersecurity at a federal, state, local or tribal government organization for a minimum of two years.

Recruiting cybersecurity professionals is a top priority for the United States government which is why they are making the investment in students across the country. 

“The cybersecurity talent shortage remains a critical issue in the United States, with businesses and government agencies alike struggling to fill critical cybersecurity positions,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan says, as per the NSF website. 

“These new CyberCorps Scholarship for Service projects engage diverse student populations and provide innovative and high-quality educational experiences that will ensure our nation is prepared to meet future cyberthreats with a well-trained workforce,” Panchanathan says. 

Huirong Fu, Ph.D., is a professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at OU.

“OU has a strong cybersecurity program that offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to engage in a curriculum with hands-on activities and practice in multidisciplinary courses in information technology, computer science, engineering, management and ethics as defined by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Workforce Framework,” Dr. Fu says. 

This fund will not only provide scholarships, but also new opportunities for many students with little visibility in the field. According to Dr. Fu, “recruiting women and minority students, who are currently underrepresented in the cybersecurity workforce, will be a priority.” 

The program will also include a mentorship program and multi-level advising for cybersecurity in government. 

“Students will complete a project with a faculty and government mentor with activities including security policies; system vulnerabilities and countermeasures; legal and social issues; artificial intelligence in mobile security and wireless security; protecting machine learning algorithms; and security in big data,” Dr. Fu says. 

With the NSF funding, OU’s Center for Cybersecurity will only continue to advance and prosper. This funding will ensure that current and future students receive mentorship and multidisciplinary training.

“OU has a concentration of faculty with expertise in autonomous systems and/or AI as part of its mission in serving employers in southeastern Michigan, most of whom are national or global companies,” Dr. Fu says. “This program will provide a visible, competitive pathway for students to exciting, rewarding careers in serving the United States government in cybersecurity and cyber defense.”

With the addition of the NSF funding, OU will have the opportunity to recruit, train and educate a new generation of cybersecurity professionals who will impact the workforce for many years to come and ensure the United States is prepared to face the many cybersecurity challenges.