The University of West Florida has been awarded a five-year grant totaling approximately $2.4 million to prepare cybersecurity students for federal, state, local and tribal government organizations.

According to a press release, the National Science Foundation CyberCorps® Scholarship For Service grant will provide scholarships for 23 undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity, computer science and information technology students and allow UWF to help fill a critical need for cybersecurity experts in governmental roles. Scholarships cover full tuition and fees plus an annual stipend and allowance of $31,000 for undergraduate students and $40,000 for graduate students for up to two years. Scholarship recipients agree to work for a governmental organization, in a cybersecurity-related position, for a period equal to the length of the scholarship. 

The grant will allow UWF to establish the CyberCorps® Scholarship For Service: Argo Cyber Emerging Scholars (ACES) program under the direction of Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, Dr. Tirthankar Ghosh, Dr. Ezhil Kalaimannan and Dr. Caroline John. 

“We are honored to join the CyberCorps® Scholarship For Service community,” said El-Sheikh, director of the UWF Center for Cybersecurity. “The UWF Scholarship for Service ACES program will enhance partnerships with federal, state and local government organizations and prepare students for cybersecurity roles within those organizations. The overall goal is to enhance national security by developing a superior cybersecurity workforce for government roles.”

The CyberCorps® SFS program aims to recruit and train the next generation of highly skilled cybersecurity professionals to meet the evolving cybersecurity mission for federal, state, local, and tribal government. According to the release, the ACES program will establish a cybersecurity community of practice to grow and sustain a superior cybersecurity workforce through scholarships, professional and leadership development, high-impact learning practices, competency-based cybersecurity skills development and community partnerships. 

“With the awarding of this highly competitive grant, our Center for Cybersecurity is once again nationally recognized as a high-quality education and training center,” said Dr. George Ellenberg, provost and senior vice president. “These funds allow us to supply financial assistance to students who desire to become highly qualified cyber experts who will protect our nation from cyberattacks while working for the government.”