The University of New Mexico has received a five-year, $1.67 million grant from the National Science Foundation to provide 18 scholarships for Master's degree study in Information Assurance (IA) and cyber-security at the Anderson School of Management. The project, titled "UNM Information Assurance Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program," is under the direction of ASM Associate Professor and Principal Investigator Stephen Burd, and co-PI's Alex Seazzu, director, UNM Center for Information Assurance Research and Education (CIARE), Jed Crandall, associate professor, Computer Science, and Electrical Computer Engineering Associate Provost and Chair Gregory Heileman.

"Information assurance includes technical aspects of computer and network security but extends them to include related areas such as data protection, privacy, economics, fraud, auditing and effective protection within the context of human behavior and modern organizations," said Burd. "UNM's information assurance program provides students with a multidisciplinary approach to information assurance that leverages strong faculty resources, research, and educational programs in multiple UNM departments."

"The program will produce graduates who can successfully apply IA concepts and technology to directly address technical, behavioral, organizational and economic factors that can often limit IA effectiveness," Seazzu said.

The UNM SFS program will prepare information assurance professionals for service in federal, state, local and tribal governmental agencies. Students must complete a summer internship and work for a governmental agency after graduation. The UNM SFS program will enhance existing degree programs by expanding relationships with federal employers, diversifying the type and increasing the scope of recruitment activities, expanding curriculum, and increasing the number and variety of internships.

The project defines ambitious target enrollments including 40 percent minority and 40 percent female.

"Since 2007, our goal was to provide as many opportunities for our students as possible," said Seazzu. "This is another one of those opportunities. The demand for IA professionals keeps increasing with more and more information resources needing protection. Nowadays, systems are everywhere and there is a greater awareness involving safeguarding the nation at different levels. This is a great opportunity for our students. UNM's status as a Hispanic Serving Institution, and its significant enrollment of women and Native Americans, will assist the expansion of the nation's cyber-security workforce with a diverse mix of program graduates."

The program incorporates technical resources from New Mexico's national laboratories, the FBI's New Mexico Regional Computer Forensics Lab (NM RCFL), and UNM faculty and curriculum in computer science, engineering, and management. The program's emphasis on experiential learning (e.g., national cyber-competitions, courseware development, fraud prevention audits, K-12 outreach and community cyber-security assessments) integrates education and research while promoting ongoing discovery into the learning process.

"I think student support is vital to the success of any program, especially those that require extra training like cyber-security," said Doug Brown, dean, Anderson School of Management.
"Our national security is heavily committed against cyber attacks," Brown said. "It's clearly one of the next fields of battle and we better be good at it."

The UNM SFS program will recruit scholarship recipients from undergraduate programs in computer science, engineering, information systems, and accounting in New Mexico and nearby states.

Information about the application process will be posted as soon as possible. A projected start date for the new scholarship recipients is tentatively scheduled for Spring 2014.

For more information about UNM's Information Assurance program, visit: Information Assurance.