NJIT, home to the largest computer science program among all research universities in the New York metropolitan area, continues to build a critical mass and increase its visibility as a top university for future leaders in the field of cybersecurity.The National Science Foundation (NSF) CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service, a program seeking proposals that address cybersecurity education and workforce development, recently awarded a $4,078,362 grant to NJIT’s College of Computing Sciences.
“This is a tremendous acknowledgement of both the strength of NJIT’s College of Computing Sciences and our country’s need to educate top-quality cybersecurity experts,” said NJIT President Joel S. Bloom. “We welcome these new scholars who will be able to take full advantage of NJIT’s interdisciplinary research networks and innovation partnerships.”
Federal officials also lauded the initiative. "This funding and the critical work being done at NJIT will further cement New Jersey’s leading role in cutting edge STEM education and training,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. “NJIT is already a premier institution with groundbreaking partnerships and workforce development programs, and this grant will further enable them to train and develop the next generation of cybersecurity leaders.” Added U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, “I applaud NJIT for their leadership in cybersecurity education and research and for taking this important step to help develop the technologies needed to protect our nation’s cyber infrastructure.”
The NJIT Secure Computing Initiative (SCI) will be supported by the funds and capitalize on the premier polytechnic university’s broad range of strengths in cybersecurity to recruit, train and place highly-successive cohorts of expert cybersecurity professionals in federal, state and local agency jobs.
Specifically, students from within and outside NJIT who are citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States funded by the grant will receive three-year scholarships that support them through the last year of their bachelor’s program, as well as two years in one of the two M.S. programs in cybersecurity available at NJIT: M.S. in Cybersecurity and Privacy; M.S. in Information Technology Administration and Security.
Overall NJIT offers over 40 courses that focus on, or have a significant component of, cybersecurity.
SCI, which will be monitored by a distinguished Board of Advisors, is under the direction of College of Computing Science professors Vincent Oria, Ali Mili, Reza Curtmola and Cristian Borcea, who all have overlapping yet complementary areas of relevant expertise in such disciplines as applied cryptography, network security, system security, software security, data security, digital forensics, counter hacking, privacy, cybersecurity metrics and boast a long history of successful collaboration in scholarly endeavors.
“SCI is designed to fulfill the national needs for cybersecurity experts, to enhance discovery while promoting learning and to increase the participation of women and underrepresented groups in cybersecurity,” said Borcea, who chairs NJIT’s Computer Science Department.
“SCI will also produce scientific results and publicly available software that will help the nation better protect against new cyber threats,” he continued. “Many of the activities that we envision for this project involve contact with the general public and are prone to sensitize society to the importance of cybersecurity.”
Slated to run for five years, SCI also includes outreach activities, such as enrichment programs for high school students and provides college students across the country with the opportunity to be trained, using a novel pedagogical approach to cybersecurity education—flexible curricula, experiential learning, research-based learning, multitier mentoring—to become a part of the cybersecurity workforce urgently needed to protect the nation's critical infrastructure.
In addition to being awarded the NSF grant, NJIT, where the College of Computer Science encompasses more than a quarter of the student population, was recently designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security and houses New Jersey’s Homeland Security Technology Systems Center, a Cybersecurity Research Center and a large volume of funded research piloted by the SCI team.
“We envision offering our graduates a rich educational experience, thanks to the academic and research environment that NJIT provides,” said Oria. “We’ll expose them to the latest technologies and advances in the field of cybersecurity, while attracting significant visibility to our institution and our program, thereby raising the profile of our graduates.”