Seven COES students earn service-based cybersecurity scholarships

Jun 2, 2022 | Engineering and Science, General News, Students

Seven students enrolled in Louisiana Tech University’s intensive Computer Science and Cyber Engineering programs have pledged to devote the first two years of their careers to helping the United States government combat cyber terrorism and improve its cyber defense mechanisms.

Computer Science student Karina Chang of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Cyber Engineering students Joseph Brown of Covington, Travis Knippers of DeRidder, Blake Perrin of LaCombe, Cameron Thomas of Bossier City, Andrew Turner of Thibodaux, and Nicholas Winkelmann of Port Aransas, Texas, earned CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service (SFS) awards for outstanding academic achievement and devotion to keeping the country’s cyberspace safe.

Front Row: Karina Chang, Joseph Brown, Blake Perrin. Back Row: Cameron Thomas, Andrew Turner, Travis Knippers, Nicholas Winkelmann, COES Dean Hisham Hegab

Pictured are (front, from left) Karina Chang, Joseph Brown, Blake Perrin, (back, from left) Cameron Thomas, Andrew Turner, Travis Knippers, Nicholas Winkelmann, and COES Dean Hisham Hegab.

These scholarships will cover tuition, cost-of-living stipends, health insurance, professional development reimbursements, and books.

The CyberCorps® SFS is a unique program designed to recruit and train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. This program provides scholarships for up to three years of support for outstanding students who make a commitment to a career in cybersecurity. In exchange, recipients agree to work in a cybersecurity-related field for the U.S. government for a period equal to the length of the scholarship.

Important industrial sectors, including energy, can be disrupted by both adversarial nations and individuals who understand and exploit vulnerabilities in cybersystems. The skills that these students develop in their Louisiana Tech educations position them to help identify these vulnerabilities and develop robust defenses for the systems.

Each student will participate in cybersecurity-related internships with government agencies next summer, during which they’ll have the opportunity to apply their hands-on, project-based Louisiana Tech education to proprietary government techniques and equipment.

“These students have demonstrated that they are committed to defending the U.S. in cyberspace,” says Dr. Hisham Hegab, a lead investigator for the grant and Dean of Tech’s College of Engineering and Science. “These awards coupled with Computer Science and Cyber Engineering degrees from Louisiana Tech will help prepare them to address cyber threats as they emerge. I’m pleased that Louisiana Tech has the opportunity to help prepare them for that responsibility, and I’m thankful that this grant provides us with funding to do so.”

“The CyberCorps® scholarship is allowing me to pursue a dream of working with a government agency in the field of cybersecurity,” Turner adds. “Before I committed to Louisiana Tech, I had heard about this scholarship, and I knew that it was my ticket to getting to where I wanted to be in the future. Through my freshman and sophomore years, Tech has prepared me to succeed in a cybersecurity career field with the help and guidance I’ve gotten through the Cyber Engineering curriculum. I came into Tech with zero coding experience, but thanks to the Living with Cyber series and following classes, I feel like I have the tools to address current cybersecurity threats in the workforce!”

Cyber Engineering and CyberCorps® SFS alumnus, Jack Foil, says that the program helped him both get the right experience and meet the right people to start his career.

“Being a member of the CyberCorps® SFS helped me get my foot in the door,” Foil said. “If a person does not know the connections of his/her career field, it makes finding a job more challenging, especially finding one with the government. Fortunately, the SFS program not only connects you to millions of people all over the country but U.S. departments like the National Security Agency, Department of Defense, and Central Intelligence Agency are motivated to hire you. The SFS program notifies you of employers around the country that need cyber security help. The question is not if you will get a job, it is when will you get the job.”

CyberCorps® SFS students must be enrolled in either the University’s Computer Science program with a Cybersecurity concentration or the Cyber Engineering program, have junior standing or higher, and maintain a 3.0-grade point average. To learn more about the Louisiana Tech program, go to the scholarship webpage.