Iowa State to train the next set of cyber warriors for the government

AMES, Iowa -- In an increasingly high tech society, it is imperative to have individuals highly skilled in information assurance to keep up with the growing number of attacks on computer security. And Iowa State University is helping to train those professionals through the Scholarships for Service (SFS) program from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that provides 24 full-ride scholarships for students to receive a master's degree in information assurance.

The NSF Scholarships for Service program distributes funds through scholarships in educating information assurance and computer security professionals. The funding to ISU includes all tuition, room, board, books and fees, as well as a $12,000 annual stipend.

Five students were admitted into Iowa State's Cyber Corp Scholarship program this fall. The scholarship recipients have varying backgrounds in computer engineering, mathematics and computer science.

"Our program is open to a more diverse group of students," said Doug Jacobson, director of the Information Assurance Center.

Scholarship recipients will take information assurance courses, along with their regular degree requirements. Participants must complete a service commitment consisting of two years of employment at a federal agency and a paid summer internship. They will also participate in academic and social activities as part of the SFS program.

"We have a very robust program, with a good mixture of theory and practice," Jacobson said.

According to Jacobson, graduates of the program can end up in exciting jobs with the federal government. "A lot of our graduates can't even tell me what they are working because of secret or top-secret clearances," he said.

Jacobson reports that there is job security in the field of information assurance. He says graduates of the ISU program will work for the federal government, where they're also immune to outsourcing. And there are plenty of jobs with the number of attacks on computer security increasing with advancing technology.

"Unfortunately for the public, the need for computer security is only going to increase," Jacobson said.

Ten students will be admitted into the program in each of the next two falls. Graduate applicants should possess an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, with a grade point average of at least 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale). Jacobson also explains that applicants must have a strong desire to work for the government and be able to accept the confidential nature that comes with it.

The deadline for fall 2010 applications is March 13.

Information on ISU's Information Assurance Center is available online at