The National Security Agency is introducing a new program to generate partnerships with colleges and universities to increase its employee pipeline of underrepresented minorities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) fields.
Academic institutions are encouraged to submit proposals for the OnRamp II program, which will provide scholarships and internships for students, sabbatical opportunities for faculty, and the opportunity to collaborate in mission-focused cybersecurity research, NSA shared in a release.
“We are really excited about this new chance to partner with colleges and universities and to provide opportunities benefitting students, faculty, the institutions, as well as NSA,” said Kathy Hutson, Senior Strategist for Academic Engagement at the Agency. “Our initial OnRamp Program was incredibly successful in supporting students in STEM fields, and we hope the new program will take it a step further to bring these students to NSA.”
The OnRamp program began in 2009 and supported students preparing for careers in STEM-related fields. The program focused on minorities, women, and others not traditionally working in these fields. The program provided tuition, academic support, professional development, and more to develop competitive candidates for graduate programs, NSA said.
Now, OnRamp II focuses on fostering educational partnerships between NSA and academic institutions to grow the pipeline of students in STEM disciplines interested in “pursuing employment with NSA while enhancing their academic caliber,” NSA said.
NSA detailed the program will provide support for OnRamp II selected schools in the following areas:
- Academic scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students in return for a service obligation to work at NSA
- Internship opportunities for students
- Academic and career advice and assistance for students
- Sabbatical opportunities at NSA for faculty members to enhance collaboration between the school and NSA
- Contract-based, mission-focused cybersecurity research
“The main objective of this effort is to promote the technical health of a strongly diverse STEM pipeline for NSA and to increase collaboration between NSA and academic institutions,” Hutson said. “While this program is not restricted to underrepresented students in STEM fields, proposals that demonstrate success advancing students in these groups will be the most competitive.”
NSA is seeking proposals from educational institutions interested in entering an OnRamp II Educational Partnership Agreement with NSA. All regionally accredited four-year and graduate-level institutions in the United States and its territories designated as NSA and/or Intelligence Community Centers of Academic Excellence are eligible to submit proposals.
NSA plans to select approximately four schools as OnRamp II Schools in the first year. Proposals are due by April 10, 2020.