USF World News

U.S. Department of State funds new cybersecurity and AI study abroad program at USF

purple background with the words "announcing ideas program 2024 grantees" sponsored by USA Study Abroad and the US Department of State

The IDEAS grant paves the way for new learning opportunities for USF engineering students in Croatia.

June 14, 2024 — The U.S. Department of State has awarded USF funding to establish a study abroad program at the tech-focused Algebra University in Croatia. It’s designed for USF students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and computer science engineering. Located in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, Algebra University is the region’s leading higher education institution of computing and information technology. 

The federally-funded program, Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students (IDEAS), supports colleges and universities in their efforts to support the development of a specialized study abroad program that supports U.S. foreign policy goals of preparing U.S. students for careers in STEM, technical, and/or vocational fields in support of the bipartisan 2022 CHIPS and Science Act.

There have historically been limited study abroad opportunities for USF engineering students with only 1.4% participating in a study abroad experience annually, compared to an average of 4% of students across the university. During the 2023-2024 academic year, more than 1,500 USF students participated in study abroad experiences in nearly 70 countries. This includes traditional programs, exchange opportunities with partner universities, internships, and research experiences. USF currently ranks 30th among public universities for student enrollment in study abroad according to OpenDoors data. More information about USF Education Abroad can be found here.

“The fields of cybersecurity, AI and computing are evolving rapidly, and it is important for our students to be a part of this new frontier of knowledge generation,” said Prasant Mohapatra, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at USF. “Engineers are frequently called upon to address global challenges and collaborate with peers across borders. This new study abroad opportunity is another avenue for highlighting USF’s commitment to graduating highly skilled and globally competent cybersecurity and AI engineers who will contribute to America’s national security and economic prosperity.” 

Earlier this year, USF announced its intention to establish a college focused on the rapidly evolving fields of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and computing. USF is the first university in Florida, and among the first in the nation, to announce plans to create a college dedicated to AI and cybersecurity. This grant is aligned with USF’s goal of contributing to key areas of societal need and opportunity; Croatia and the wider southeastern region of Europe are of geopolitical importance to the United States making the study abroad experience a unique learning opportunity for USF students. 

“USF is committed to preparing students to be successful in the global economy. A study abroad experience is proven to be one of the best ways for students to gain confidence, master adaptability, and learn how to forge solutions across diverse perspectives,” said Kiki Caruson, vice president of USF World. “The opportunity for USF engineering students to study in Croatia at Algebra University is sure to be a high-impact learning experience.”

As part of the IDEAS program, a delegation of USF faculty and academic advisors will travel to Algebra University to visit facilities and discuss program activities with their Croatian counterparts. The establishment of an engineering-specific study abroad program fulfills a USF World multi-year goal  of creating opportunities for future engineers to benefit from study abroad experiences. The program will be USF’s first partnership with Algebra University – a private university that, similar to USF, has forged deep partnerships with industry to develop applied, tech-focused programming and research opportunities to ensure students are ready to contribute to an ever-changing field of engineering.  

“The U.S. Department of State is proud to support U.S. colleges and universities as they build capacity for more American students to study abroad in diverse locations around the world,” said Heidi Manley, chief of USA Study Abroad, a division of the U.S. Department of State. “Increasing the number of U.S. students with international experiences is part of our investment in ensuring that our country’s future leaders have the skills they need in fields ranging from global health to technology and innovation.” 

Since 2016, the IDEAS program has awarded grants to 205 higher education institutions to establish, expand and broaden their U.S. study abroad programs in nearly 100 countries. A full list of the recipients can be found here