NSF awards TU’s Cyber Corps program nearly $5 million

The University of Tulsa’s Cyber Corps has received a $4.98 million grant from the National Science Foundation – the largest award in the history of TU’s internationally recognized program.

The award will benefit approximately 80 TU students who will serve in cyber security posts primarily at U.S. intelligence agencies, in the Department of Defense in support of special forces or at research facilities such as Sandia National Laboratories.

This new NSF grant was awarded to TU’s unique Cyber Corps as it teaches offensive and defensive technical skills to computer science students as well as chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, law and business students. During the past 14 years, Cyber Corps has grown into the largest cyber security program in the country and has fielded more than 300 students, including several placed at the White House.

“I am in awe of the amazing contributions of TU Cyber Corps graduates – defending key national assets, supporting military operations and prosecuting homicides,” said program Director Sujeet Shenoi, TU’s F.P. Walter Professor of Computer Science and professor of chemical engineering.

The intense “MacGyver Track” imparts specialized cyber operations skills such as reverse engineering, network exploitation and vulnerability analysis while interdisciplinary tracks prepare students for research, operations and project management. All Cyber Corps students train for real-world scenarios with law enforcement, the national security community and critical infrastructure asset owners and operators. Students have the opportunity to analyze the security of critical assets such as electric utilities, oil and gas pipelines, E-911 systems, even fighter aircraft.

Neal Ziring, technical director of the Information Assurance Directorate at the National Security Agency, said his office has had a long relationship with TU’s program. “Cyber Corps combines foundational knowledge with hands-on experience,” he said. “TU’s program is constructed in such a way that graduates hired at NSA are able to hit the ground running.”

Ziring said there is a large contingent of TU alumni in the NSA – many of whom are products of Cyber Corps – and they have ascended into leadership ranks within the agency, including division chief and division technical director.

“Cyber Corps is a jewel in the crown of our university, and I’m proud of this latest show of support from the NSF,” said university President Steadman Upham. “This premier program fortifies our national defense, protects our power supplies and bolsters our law enforcement. It guards precious research and shields trade secrets from hackers. Cyber Corps students and graduates serve our country on countless fronts.”