23 November 2021

Spy agency looks to ANU for cyber security recruits with new scholarship

| Ian Bushnell
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ANU V-C Brian Schmidt

Brian Schmidt said the grant and the Co-Lab collaboration with ASD was another example of the ANU’s distinct national mission. Photo: Supplied.

The Australian Signals Directorate will help train ANU students in cyber security and recruit them to its ranks as part of a new honours scholarship.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt and Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie have launched the Co-Lab Honours Grant, which will contribute to training the next generation of experts tackling major challenges across cyber security, data science and cloud computing, as well as a range of other key areas.

Based at ANU, the Co-Lab will bring together leading ANU academics and some of ASD’s foremost analysts and technologists to collaborate on research projects and STEM career pathways for students – with Australia’s national security at its centre.

The new honours grant program offers $8,000 in funding for exceptional students to focus on leading research projects with real-life impact.

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Mr Hastie said more than ever, ASD needed people with a rare mix of specialist skills, adaptability and imagination to defend the nation against the most sophisticated adversaries.

“Growing ASD’s workforce to support its mission is a top priority – talented people are at the heart of ASD’s capability,” Mr Hastie said.

“I’m pleased to announce that ASD’s technical experts, in conjunction with ANU researchers, will offer 30 honours students bespoke training, career guidance and mentoring while working on real-world problems in real-world settings.

“The growth and maturity of the Co-Lab Honours Program reflects the strength of the ASD-ANU partnership, and I’m continually impressed by the sheer ingenuity and insights of the students this program attracts.”

Professor Schmidt said the grant and the Co-Lab collaboration with ASD was another example of the university’s distinct national mission.

“This is a really important initiative,” Professor Schmidt said.

“Our students will work with the country’s leading agency on cybersecurity to help build the future workforce to meet Australia’s national security requirements.”

The grant program welcomes students interested in a career with ASD with a goal of helping foster new talent for ASD’s growing, multi-skilled and diverse workforce.

Grants are available to students undertaking a research project during their honours year that aligns with ASD research interests, including mathematics, engineering, computer science, linguistics, statistics, psychology, sociology and languages.

ASD’s mission is to defend Australia from global threats and advance Australia’s national interests by delivering foreign signals intelligence, cyber security and offensive cyber operations.

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