The Cyberinfrastructure Lab (CI Lab) at the University of South Carolina provides an undergraduate research opportunity as a part of its ONR: Enhancing the Preparation of Next-generation Cyber Professionals through a Hands-on Academic Program, Undergraduate Research Experiences, and Community Partnerships grant. The goal of the CI lab is to investigate issues in high-speed networks and Internet of Things (IoT), and to find solutions to the technical problems in these areas.

Project Description

South Carolina (SC) has many key national facilities, each with its own cybersecurity needs. These include the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic, Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), Fort Jackson, Shaw Air Force Base, and others. Despite generous incentives, recruiting the American military’s cyber force is more difficult than ever. According to 2018 estimates, the Department of Defense (DoD) has been struggling to hire more than 8,000 cyber positions1.

The University of South Carolina (UofSC) proposes to address such cybersecurity workforce needs in a comprehensive manner. First, effective Fall 2020, the project is implementing a minor in Integrated Information Technology (IIT) with a concentration in cyberoperations. The concentration is attractive not only for IT students but also for UofSC’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students. The program includes material that prepares students for DoD’s approved baseline certificates for Information Assurance Technical (IAT) and for positions such as security analyst, incident responder, and security network engineer.

Second, the concentration prepares students to conduct research in applied cybersecurity. Undergraduate research projects are conducted under the guidance of a faculty professor in the College of Engineering and Computing (CEC), with input from Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NIWC) Atlantic, based on Charleston, SC.

Third, the project has deployed equipment pods on a virtual platform, accessible over the Internet, to support research and teaching activities. By partnering with leading cybersecurity companies, namely, Palo Alto Networks, Cisco Systems, and VMware, students will learn cybersecurity and conduct research using state-of-the-art virtual equipment and professional tools deployed on the virtual platform.

Fourth, the project organizes the following meetings: a) an annual two-day cyber-training event for IT professionals, high-school teachers, and university professors interested in cybersecurity (e.g., next-generation firewalls, intrusion detection systems, cybersecurity operations); and b) research workshops. The latter will enable students to showcase their research work before peers, faculty, external evaluators from NIWC, and other guests.

Reference: 1. J. Lynch, “Inside the Pentagon’s Struggle to Build a Cyber Force,” Fifth Domain publication, October 29, 2018.

Undergraduate Research Opportunity – Application Deadline for Fall 2020: August 26

The project includes undergraduate research positions in applied cybersecurity.

Duration of the research activity: up to 15 weeks
Hours per week: 15
Rate: $18 per hour
Total Stipend amount: up to $4,050

Eligibility Criteria

ROTC students are strongly encouraged to apply. IIT students, veterans, and students enrolled in the military are also encouraged to apply. Eligibility requirements are:

1. U.S. citizen
2. Submit an application form
3. Submit an unofficial transcript
4. Applicant must have passed at least one of the following courses (note: if you did not take any of the courses below, but have the equivalent knowledge and skills, you are welcome to apply):
– ITEC 245: Introduction to Networks
– ITEC 293: Cyberoperations
– ITEC 445: Advanced Networking
– ITEC 493: IT Security for Managers

Documents must be submitted to (subject line: onr-application).