Devon Rollins, 2008 NSF CyberCorps SFS Fellow

Devon Rollins, 2008 CyberCorps SFS Fellow

Cyberspace has not only created a boon of opportunity for individuals, businesses and governments, but also for cyber criminals. Recognizing the need to develop a strong education system and workforce in cybersecurity, the U.S. Federal Government established the CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service program. A partnership between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) CyberCorps: Scholarships For Service (SFS) provides tuition scholarships for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students in cybersecurity, and after graduation, job placements in cybersecurity positions in Federal, State, Local or Tribal Government organizations for a period equal to the length of their scholarship.

Recently we met Devon Rollins, a cybersecurity professional in Washington, D.C. and 2008 CyberCorps SFS Fellow. He was happy to share his experience as a CyberCorps Fellow.

1. What inspired you to apply for the CyberCorps SFS Fellowship?

As a graduating senior at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Computer Science, I was oscillating between the immediate prospects of the workforce and the attractiveness of higher education.  Having studied the gamut of computer science concepts I felt particularly drawn to computer forensics and incident response, a testament to the Encyclopedia Brown books I found myself enamored with as a child.  Judging by the undergraduate curriculums of the foremost schools in the field, I estimated that a more immersive, specialized experience was necessary for me to truly consider myself competent.  However, the realities of growing up in a working class family and the inability to retain an athletic scholarship through graduate school meant entertaining my professional ambitions earlier than intended.  Graduate school, for a glimpse in time, became a dream deferred, only to be paired with corporate training funds and managerial concurrence.

Luckily, through the diligence of professors who wanted me to stay, I was introduced to the CyberCorps SFS Fellowship which would pay for me to pursue my graduate studies at a partner school, provide me a stipend, and assist with job placement in exchange for a commitment to work for in public service for two years afterwards.  It was a mutually beneficial opportunity that served both my interest in cyber security and civic engagement.

2. What is a typical week like for a CyberCorps Fellow?

For a CyberCorps SFS fellow in the workforce, the duties vary but acquiesce around making the Internet, government networks, and the digital experience for Americans much safer.  We all contribute to this cause and find much pleasure in promoting a worthy agenda bigger than ourselves.  Most of our work is classified, but the aim of our mission is widely promoted.

As a fellow, you may develop software, interrogate hard drives, develop cyber policy, or conduct research.  Each day is met with the task of becoming more informed about the field of study and advocating for others to become good digital citizens.  We inch towards making the Internet safer, making networks more secure, and assisting the government in securely using technology to best serve the American public.

3. What tips would you give others applying to the fellowship?

Be clear and thoughtful about the need for interdisciplinary approaches to combating the online threats this country faces. In general, you should showcase how exposure to public service will inform your knowledge of cyber related issues.  And as always, captivate your audience with a well thought out plan of how you intend to use this fellowship and be a steward of its principles.

The current application deadline for the NSF CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service program is February, 11 2014. Learn more.

Devon Rollins is a Senior Information Systems Engineer at MITRE Corporation specializing in cyber and investigative technologies and a current Center for American Progress Leadership Institute Fellow. Devon has received advanced degrees in Computer Science and Information Security Policy and Management from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Carnegie Mellon University respectively. He is also a former Gem Fellow (2010) and National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science Fellow (2011). 

© Victoria Johnson 2014, all rights reserved.

Singapore. Photo credit: Lunch Magazine

The National Research Foundation has announced its 6th annual call for applications for the Singapore NRF Fellowship. The fellowships provide up to US$2.4 million over five years to exceptional, young scientists and researchers (below 40 years of age) to carry out independent, leading-edge research in Singapore. Promising Fellows will be offered tenure-track or permanent positions at local universities or research institutions in Singapore. The FAQs state that those with a PhD are expected to have at least one post-doc stint on their resume, but ideally 2 or more postdoctoral stints and an impressive publication record.

I’ve read that Singapore has a bustling life sciences research scene for recent graduates and researchers from abroad. Also, many multi-national companies such as Novartis and Pfizer are setting up plants in Singapore.

Unsure about Singapore? Those in-the-know know that Singapore is rising in the ranks as a global contender for top-notch food, culture, nightlife and design. Sounds to me like a fantastic place for a fellowship abroad.

Curious? The NRF Fellowship is open to researchers from the following science and technology clusters: Computer Science (Infocomm Technologies and Interactive Digital Media), Engineering (All branches), Medicine, Life Sciences and Natural/Physical Sciences. For more information, read more here.

Venture Firm Kleiner Perkins is strategic in more ways than one. To attract top engineering talent, they’ve established the competitive KPCB Engineering Fellows Program. In this summer fellowship, engineering students spend a summer at Kleiner Perkins in the San Francisco Bay Area where they will be paid to develop their technical skills while being mentored by an engineering executive within the company. Fellows will also be invited to attend private events, such as talks by reps from Twitter, Groupon, Zynga and Chegg. They will also have the opportunity to network with other talented engineering students and technology luminaries at planned outings like a Giants game, camping in Big Basin, or a hackathon at Klout.

25 Fellows were just chosen from nearly 1000 applicants from over 100 universities. The universities the class of fellows are joining from are Franklin Olin, Rice, Princeton, UPenn, Carnegie Mellon, Brown, UCSD, University of Michigan, Duke, and University of Kentucky. According to TechCrunch, sample summer projects include working on an energy efficiency insight algorithm on Opower’s data platform, and developing graph analysis to provide data insight that will drive product designs at Klout.

Eligibility for the KPCB Engineering Fellows Program is open to outstanding undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at U.S. universities who are studying computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics or fields related to software development. The next application deadline is likely to be October 2012.

On the heels of Code for America, the federal government is launching a new Tech Fellows Program to lure emerging, young talent into federal jobs. The two-year fellowship program allows recent master’s and doctoral graduates to receive top-of-the-notch training in rotational assignments across the federal government. The program was set up as part of the federal IT Reform Plan and is under the auspices of the Presidential Management Fellows Program.

“Once inside the Federal Government, the Tech Fellows will be given the challenge of working with the projects and complex systems that are only available when working in Federal IT, “says Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel. “In my opinion, this is the competitive advantage that the Federal Government holds against the private sector.” Read more.

Candidates must have an undergraduate degree in computer science, computational mathematics, information technology, or information science, a graduate degree in an information technology discipline, and/or significant work experience in IT.

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is recruiting the best and brightest in computer science for fellowships in cybersecurity. DHS has recently established two new programs, the  Emerging Leaders in Cybersecurity and the Secretary’s Honors Program for Cybersecurity Professionals. Both are for recent graduates in Computer Science, Network and Computer Engineering, Information Assurance and other cyber-related disciplines.

Through rotational assignments, Fellows can contribute to a top secret forensics project with the Secret Service or respond to cyber threats with the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. has made progress in cybersecurity since the 9/11 attacks, but relies heavily on the private sector to protect infrastructure critical to national security. These fellowships are a chance for top students in computer science to seek a rewarding career in public service.