Microsoft offers $1m for secure computing curricula

Microsoft's research group is making available $1m (£550m) to help create courses in computer science, business and law that...

Microsoft's research group is making available $1m (£550m) to help create courses in computer science, business and law that focus on secure computing.

The $1m will be made available as a request for proposal, Microsoft senior vice-president Rick Rashid said at the start of the software maker's annual Faculty Summit.

"The goal there is to dedicate $1m over the next two years to help develop curricula for Trustworthy Computing and really improve the state of the art in terms of education for students," Rashid told an audience of about 400 faculty researchers from institutions worldwide.

"There have not been really well-defined curricula in this space," he said.

Trustworthy Computing is a Microsoft-wide initiative to focus on security launched by Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates in January 2002. Despite the initiative, Microsoft software continues to be hit by computer worms, viruses and other threats.

"What we're hoping is by helping to seed new work in this space, not research but curricula work, we will be able to accelerate the rate at which great new courses and materials will be available to people to teach Trustworthy Computing," Rashid said.

Microsoft has many initiatives to reach out to universities, including around security. Microsoft last year said it was working with a number of universities in several countries to set up courses that teach students how to write secure code. The University of Leeds was the first to announce such a course.
Furthering its efforts to work with academia, Microsoft also announced a $1m New Faculty Fellowship programme to sponsor new computer science faculty members. Microsoft will award five $200,000 fellowships a year to exceptional new faculty members.

Additionally, looking to give universities a chance to start work early with its new compiler technology codenamed Phoenix, Microsoft announced the Phoenix Academic Programme and the Phoenix Research Development Kit.

"These [Phoenix] technologies allow, we think, for researchers to really advance the state of the art in code generation, optimisation, program analysis, binary transformations and software correctness," Rashid said. 

Declining enrollment in computer science courses is one of the reasons Microsoft works with universities around the world, Gates said.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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