University of Louisville One of Only Nine Universities to Receive NSF Cybersecurity Grant

March 15, 2023

University of Louisville was selected as one of only nine universities across the country to receive a grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. Overall, the chosen universities will receive more than $29 million as part of a major agency initiative to strengthen the security of America’s cyber space.

The NSF grants come at a time when there’s a global shortage of 3.4 million workers in the field of cybersecurity, according to 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study by (ISC)a leading organization of cybersecurity professionals. In the U.S., it’s estimated there are more than 700,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs.

“The security and prosperity of the United States have become increasingly dependent on its technological superiority and competitiveness in the cyberspace,” said Dr. Wei Zhang, chairperson and professor, Computer Science and Engineering, UofL Speed School of Engineering, who is serving as principal investigator on the project. The UofL program: Cybersecurity Talent Development in Kentucky, will prepare 20 diverse master’s students with superior cybersecurity skills for entry into the government workforce.

Dr. Adel Elmaghraby, UofL Speed School of Engineering’s Director of Industrial Research and Innovation is serving as Co-PI. The grant, which began on January 1 of this year, is estimated to continue through the year 2027. The total intended amount of the award is $3.4 million, with $1,345,000 in funds committed to date.

Zhang said that to ensure diversity, the project will actively recruit students from currently underrepresented groups in the cybersecurity workforce, including women, minorities, and low-income students. “As the first SFS program in Kentucky, this project will make advanced cybersecurity education and financial, academic, and student support more accessible to diverse students in Kentucky and beyond,” he said.

The cybersecurity project builds on the existing graduate certificate in cybersecurity program, and scholarship recipients will also participate in a variety of academic and student support activities, such as personalized curriculum planning and mentoring, cohort-based peer meetings and advising, a federal internship program, and other professional development activities to promote their success in the program. 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.

The project will also help the University of Louisville broaden participation in cybersecurity education and strengthen partnerships with government agencies in cybersecurity, said Zhang.

The other universities receiving the grants through the SFS program include Robert Morris University, Sam Houston State University, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; Marquette University, University of South Florida, Wichita State University, Boise State University and Oregon State University.