NMT Partners With ENMU-Ruidoso To Expand Computer Science Scholarship Program

NMT Partners With ENMU-Ruidoso To Expand Computer Science Scholarship Program

October 9, 2017

SOCORRO, N.M. – New Mexico Tech has developed a new computer science partnership with the Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso campus. The first two Ruidoso have enrolled in the federally-funded Scholarship For Service, or SFS, program.

Each SFS student receives a year of support as an undergrad and two years of support as a grad student. SFS participants also get a laptop, travel funds, a research project, and professional development course work. Upon completion of a degree, SFS students are required to work either two or three years for a government agency.

Two Ruidoso students, Joseph Rutledge and Brent Kernohan, will join the current cohort of SFS students at NMT. The seven current SFS students are Kyle Buchmiller, Sean Salinas, Sean Turner, Kevin Schmittle, Jessica Rooney, Owen Parkins, and Armando Juarez. Four NMT students will join the program in the near future – Jonathan Grzybowski, Kevin Helfert, Celia Pacheco, and Matthew Robinson.

Salinas, a second-year master’s student in the program,  said the SFS program is an excellent way to fund tuition and get a job.

“I’m supported the whole way,” Salinas said. “I am getting paid to go to school. The commitment I made at the end, where I do government service, is basically a guaranteed job. It’s not that I have to serve. It’s that I get to serve.”

The SFS program provides participants an annual stipend that covers tuition, housing and living expenses, Salinas said.

“I don’t have to worry about having a job or going into debt,” he said. “My full-time job is being a student.”

New Mexico Tech has a course for SFS students in professional development. Salinas and other SFS students also go to an annual job fair in Washington, D.C. Salinas said that employers had more jobs available than there were students at the most recent job fair.

“This is the best deal I’ve found,” he said. “I’d recommend this to any student interested in computer science.”

Dr. Lorie Liebrock, Computer Science Professor and Dean of Graduate Studies, has been the principal investigator since the program’s inception in 2003. Dr. Dongwan Shin joined as co-P.I. a few years ago. Overall, more than 60 Tech students have successfully completed the SFS program.

“They have found jobs all over the nation in government agencies,” Dr. Shin said. “They are at the NSA, the FBI, Sandia National Lab, Los Alamos, Idaho National Lab and many other agencies like the Department of Defense. All of them are working in the cyber security field, which is a basic requirement for SFS students here.”

Shin said the SFS program not only guarantees a job, but is an excellent preparation for a career. SFS students at Tech enter as a cohort, take classes together and work on research projects together.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the SFS program provides funding to universities that have been identified as Centers for Academic Excellence for Information Assurance Education, of which NMT is one.