Student Training and Engagement Program

Two images of STEP students

NEW! Apply to be an ACCESS STEP Mentor: https://forms.gle/kVJfC86EL4vTVweQ8 

General Information about the Student Training and Engagement Program (STEP)

  • This is a female-led program that is dedicated to being inclusive! 
  • Our program is intended for undergraduates or early-career graduate students. Our goal is to encourage careers in cyberinfrastructure!

Step 1: 2-week introductory experience

Join us for a dynamic two-week experience in Miami, FL in May! We cover your travel, provide accommodations, and give you a stipend. This program is designed to help you:

  • Become more aware of the many areas of interest within the field: web programming, high performance computing, cybersecurity, networking, real use of AI
  • Determine where your interests are
  • Discover what areas of study you should pursue in the future
  • Experience high levels of direct interaction with diverse people with diverse skill sets

STEP-2: Full-time for the summer

STEP-2  follows STEP-1. STEP-2 is a full-time summer program* (in-person + virtual) where you will participate in projects in web programming, high performance computing, cybersecurity, networking, implementations of AI. We cover travel, accommodations for in-person events, provide a stipend for participating, plus take you to a national conference. This program is designed to help you:

  • Develop an intermediate understanding of one of the areas of interest within the field: web programming, high performance computing, cybersecurity, networking, real use of AI
  • Provide opportunities for interactions with professionals in the field

Example Projects:

  • Students in cybersecurity will work with CONECT cybersecurity professionals to help protect ACCESS’s CI – a highly complex and heterogeneous environment that is constantly under attack–by managing vulnerabilities, analyzing security log data, and performing security vetting tasks.
  • Students in operations will create and monitor the information sharing platform technology stack, aid the curation of assets for the AI-chatbot, and use APIs to push information to various platforms (e.g., Ask.CI, etc.).
  • Students in data and networking will install and use perfSONAR, learn networking best practices, Linux systems management, testing methodologies, and identification and resolution of networking performance issues.

STEP-3: Part-time during the school year

STEP-3 follows STEP-2. You will continue interacting (virtually) with your team on projects on a part-time basis during the academic year. Participants will receive a stipend and we will also take you to the annual SC conference. This program is designed to help you:

  • Develop a deep understanding of one of the areas of interest within the field: web programming, high performance computing, cybersecurity, networking, real use of AI
  • Provide further opportunities for interactions with professionals in the field
  • Understand how a career in cyberinfrastructure could fit with your future plans!

Eligibility criteria

All students who apply to STEP must be:

  • At least 18 years of age by the start date of the program
  • Students attending US based institutions
  • Enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a baccalaureate or associate degree or masters/PhD*
  • In good academic standing at their college or university
  • Available to participate for the full program for which the student is applying

    *For international students, STEP-1, 2 or 3 may be considered curricular practical training (CPT) by your home institution; it is your responsibility to comply with your home institution's policies and immigration regulations pertaining to your legal status. Please work with your home institution on determining eligibility and any required paperwork.

Additional criteria/information

  • Some software development experience with Python is desired as well as some UNIX/Linux
  • Priority is given to populations historically underrepresented in STEM, including women and those from minority serving institutions (MSIs)—such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and schools with low levels of research activity, including community colleges.

Program Requirements

  • All STEP participants should participate for the full length program for which they were accepted
  • STEP-2 participants will participate in program activities up to 40 hours a week (i.e. working with team members on projects, attending program-wide activities, professional development seminars/events, and other engagements)
  • STEP-3 participants will participate in program activities ~10 hours a week (i.e. working with team members on projects, attending program-wide activities, professional development seminars, and other engagements)
  • STEP-2 and STEP-3 participants will write a report about their program/project activities
  • STEP-2 and STEP-3 participants will give an oral presentation about their program/project activities during the STEP experience
  • STEP participants may be asked to assist in further recruitment efforts at their respective schools
  • During certain portions of STEP,  on-campus activities may be required; housing during these portions of the program will be provided and arranged by the STEP coordinator

    *For international students, your home institution may have additional requirements for participation depending on your home institution's policies and immigration regulations pertaining to your legal status. Please work with your home institution on determining any such requirements

Important Dates

  • Online application: Due Sunday, March 3, 2024
  • Program dates: 
    • STEP-1: May/June 2024 (on Florida International University main campus); dates are May 13 - May 24 2024 
    • STEP-2: June/July 2024 (on University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus), July/August 2024 (remote + conference attendance); dates June 10 - August 2, 2024
    • STEP-3: Starting between August 15 - September 1, 2024, ending between May 15 - May 30, 2025

Acceptance

  • Offers of acceptance will go out by email on a periodic, rolling basis. After the acceptance review process is complete, the remaining applicants will be notified by email.
  • Once the program offer is accepted, a STEP participant should complete the portion of the STEP program they were accepted for and meet the program requirements.