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NMT Hosts New Computer Science Partners From Ruidoso

NMT Hosts New Computer Science Partners From Ruidoso

October 18, 2017

SOCORRO, N.M. – New Mexico Tech played host to two new students and their instructor from Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso campus on Wednesday. The visitors are new members of the federally-funded Scholarship For Service, or SFS, program, which Tech has operated since 2003.

The National Science Foundation expanded the program this year, partnering community colleges with universities that are categorized as Centers for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity – which Tech is. The new partnership, which is one of only 49 in the nation, was made possible by the two schools’ articulation agreement in computer science.

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Dr. Lorie Liebrock, the P.I. on the Scholarship For Service program since its inception at NMT in 2003, with the new Ruidoso SFS participants. From left are Liebrock, students Brent Kernohan and Joseph Rutledge, and ENMU-Ruidoso instructor Stephen Miller. 

 

 

Dr. Stephen Miller, the principal investigator for the program in Ruidoso, said, “The goal is to get a pipeline from our high schools to the community college, and then off to New Mexico Tech.”

Dr. Lorie Liebrock has been the principal investigator for the SFS at New Mexico Tech since its inception 15 years ago. She said the program is important because the nation’s universities aren’t producing enough students with skills in cyber-security to meet the demands of the workforce.

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. Graduate students earn $34,000 each year for two years.  

Two Ruidoso students, Joseph Rutledge and Brent Kernohan, visited NMT on Wednesday to tour the campus and to participate in a class alongside the current SFS students at Tech.

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All of the Scholarship For Students at NMT and ENMU-Ruidoso took time away from class for a photo during the initial visit of the Ruidoso contingent. 

 

Kernohan is a native of Mescalero, N.M., and got interested in computer science through his older brother. Rutledge retired from the Coast Guard, where he had experience as a systems administrator. They both said the SFS program provides important financial assistance and that they were attracted by the prospect of job stability upon graduation. Both will transfer to NMT in the fall of 2018.

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.

Rooney, a native of Denver, said she came to Tech specifically for the Scholarship For Service program. She had experience in computer science in high school and has already completed an internship at IBM. Since being accepted into the SFS program, she has already attended one conference, which she said was an excellent opportunity to network with other professionals.

Salinas, who is finishing his master’s this year, 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.”

New Mexico Tech has a course for SFS students in professional development. 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.”

Overall, more than 60 Tech students have successfully completed the SFS program.

“They have found jobs all over the nation in government agencies,” said Dr. Dongwan Shin, who joined as co-P.I. a couple years ago. “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.”