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Joint CSU Pueblo and University of Arizona Proposal Awarded $600,000 NSF Grant

Release Date: August 22, 2022

Greg Hoye

Executive Director

Marketing, Communications, Community Relations

(719) 549-2810


Colorado State University Pueblo (CSU Pueblo) and the University of Arizona (UArizona) partnered to receive a three-year $600,000 CISE-MSI (Computer and Information Science for Engineering Minority Serving Institutions) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to expand research capacity for artificial intelligence (AI) enabled cyber infrastructure vulnerability assessment. 

The NSF grant principal investigators (P.I.'s), will be Dr. Roberto Mejias, Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems and director of Center for Cyber Security Education and Research, and Dr. Hsinchun Chen, UArizona Regents' Professor, Thomas R. Brown, chair of Management, and Director and Founder of the UArizona A.I. Laboratory.

The joint NSF project intends to build research capacity between two Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs); CSU-Pueblo and UArizona. Both institutions are NSA-CAE (U.S. National Security Agency-Center of Academic Excellence) designed to foster the development of cybersecurity professionals from underrepresented student groups and females.

UArizona will employ their top-ranked Cybersecurity Ph.D. and Master students to:

  1. Design an AI-enabled Vulnerability Assessment and Remediation (AI-VAR) framework to detect and prioritize cyber vulnerabilities in cyber infrastructures
  2. Link these identified vulnerabilities with remediation strategies via a Vulnerability Contrastive Representation Learning (VulnCRL) methodology

CSU Pueblo’s Cybersecurity program will provide the foundational training to build domain knowledge of vulnerability assessment (VA) and scanning tools using UArizona's VulnCRL methodology and VA tools such as Nessus (for scanning network ports and protocols), Bandit (scanning for Python insecurities) and Flaw Finder (scanning for C-language attacks).

The joint UArizona and CSU Pueblo CISE-MSI NSF grant also will provide $20,000 per year in Cyber scholarships for current CSU Pueblo and incoming community college students majoring in CIS and Cyber Security.

CSU Pueblo Cyber Security student teams will work closely with UArizona faculty and graduate students and will be actively recruited to enroll in the MIS Cyber Security and AI graduate programs at UArizona.

UArizona's top ranked program in MIS-Cyber Security has previously partnered with CSU Pueblo's NSA-CAE Cyber Security program since 2017 by sending our CSU Pueblo's Cyber Security grads to continue their graduate studies in MIS-Cyber Security through UArizona's NSF funded CyberCore SFS (Scholarship for Service) program.

CSU Pueblo "CyberWolves" have vigorously participated in numerous regional and national cybersecurity competitions placing among the top 5-10% among all National Cyber League (NCL) collegiate teams. Similarly, UArizona's APT Ethical hacking team (championed by CSU Pueblo's CIS-Cyber Security grads, Josh Greer, '17, Gabrila Garcia-Greer, '18 and Raul Reyes, '21) helped UArizona's NCL team to place among the top five teams nationwide in the 2020 and 2021 NCL cyber competitions.

The joint CSU Pueblo and UArizona NSF grant award highlight the increasing importance of ranked R1 (Carnegie Research Category 1) HSI schools collaborating with smaller HSI universities with rigorous cyber security programs to attract more under-represented student groups and females into the STEM related fields of technology and cyber security.

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