Iowa State student selected as Boren Fellow

AMES, Iowa — An Iowa State University graduate student will combine his passions for cybersecurity, machine learning and the Russian language during his upcoming Boren Fellowship.

Steven Sleder, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering from Omaha, has been selected as a 2020-21 Boren Fellow. The Boren Awards – funded by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office, an office within the U.S. Department of Defense – are a competitive and selective collection of scholarships for undergraduates and fellowships for graduate students. Sleder is Iowa State’s first-ever Boren Fellow. Iowa State last had a Boren Scholar in 2017.

Boren Fellows receive funding to support a semester or year studying abroad, with intensive language study and a connection to topics of national security. Each applicant pledges to work for the U.S. federal government for a year in the near future.

Sleder has proposed studying at a language school and securing an internship in Tallinn, Estonia, through the Boren Fellowship to hone his expertise in cybersecurity and become fluent in Russian. Next spring, Sleder plans to move to Tartu, Estonia, to enroll at the University of Tartu and pursue university-level coursework in Russian. In fall 2021, his goal is to return to the United States to begin a doctoral program in computer science.

He is currently an intern with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he is on a team – the Sandia Interdisciplinary Machine Learning Researchers – working in applied machine intelligence and application engineering.

Sleder hopes to one day work in a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory.

“I have little doubt that in such a place my service will directly impact the world as I strive to provide exceptional service in the national interest,” Sleder wrote in his Boren essay.

Sleder received his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Iowa State last year.