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CSU Pueblo Cyber Security Program garners National Science Foundation funding and creates pathways for students

Release Date: October 27, 2023

Gena Alfonso

Director of Communications/PIO

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The Center for Cyber Security Education and Research (CCSER) is now in the fourth year of its five-year $2.5 million Project PUENTE (Partnerships in Undergraduate Education for New and Transferring Estudiantes) National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. The project is funded by the NSF as an initiative to support Hispanic Serving Institutions create pathways for underrepresented minority student groups and females in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Project PUENTE, which is Spanish for “bridge,” seeks to ease the transition from a two-year to a four-year institution and incorporate advanced coursework to help students adjust from lower-division to upper-division classes.

Project PUENTE will focus on the technology aspect of STEM with plans to use cyber security as a gateway to attract and retain students pursuing a bachelor’s degree and careers in STEM. To date, the NSF-STEM-HSI grant project has provided scholarships and stipends for over 500 students throughout Southern Colorado to participate in the National Cyber League (NCL) cyber games. Students from local middle and high schools, as well as community colleges, have joined CSU Pueblo students to compete in the NCL games.

“Although the Hispanic and Latino population in the United States has grown quickly, the Hipanic demographic makes up less than 10 percent of the STEM workforce,” Principal Investigator and Director of the CCSER Dr. Roberto Meijas said. “The NSF Project PUENTE      grant will target low income, Hispanic and Latino, and first-generation students who may have limited information and awareness for opportunities in STEM, and ‘new collar’ jobs in technology and cyber security.”

NSF awards $100,000 in supplemental funding for Cyber Security Program at CSU Pueblo

The CSU Pueblo Cyber Security Program received an additional $100,000 in support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support Security Education Training Awareness (SETA). According to Dr. Meijas, “This additional NSF grant supports our CIS-cyber security students increase their knowledge of the current cyber threatscape facing the United States semiconductor industry and supports the Creating Helpful Incentive to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act of 2022.”

“We want underrepresented student groups and females to feel welcome and supported by the STEM programs at CSU Pueblo so they know it’s possible to earn a degree in STEM related fields such as Computer Information Systems (CIS) and Cybersecurity,” Dr. Meijas said. “These students will receive incredible hands-on learning experiences, participate in national cyber competitions with our nationally-ranked Cyberwolves team, to ensure their pathways toward degree completion.”

The supplemental grant funds the on-going success of the current NSF Project PUENTE NSF-STEM-HSI). Cyber Security Students in Colorado receive over $100,000 in stipends and scholarships from CSU Pueblo’s Center for Cyber Security Education and Research.

The CCSER at CSU Pueblo awarded over $100,000 in NSF and State of Colorado stipends and scholarships to 18 current CSU Pueblo Students and 10 community college transfer students to CSU Pueblo’s computer information systems (CIS) and cyber security programs.

NSF stipends for current CSU Pueblo students were provided by the Project PUENTE grant award. The State of Colorado Cyber Security/Block Chain Fund also provided support to local students.

Applications for these funds were open to all CSU Pueblo CIS majors who maintained a 3.0 GPA, including homeland security studies and other related majors. Eligible students must also be involved in IT-related activities and actively participate in the NCL cyber games.

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