In an effort to offer a forward-looking cybersecurity curriculum to an increasing number of students entering the workforce with job-ready cybersecurity skills, universities are combining their expertise to create unparalleled educational opportunities in cybersecurity and offering resources to students through an innovative, streamlined partnership.
The collaboration, which is led by Northeastern and includes NAU, the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Houston and the University of South Carolina, is part of the sophomore class of universities to receive grants through VICEROY (Virtual Institutes for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employ Program). This program, which aims to rapidly broaden the number of highly attractive cyber-related courses available to university students in an effort to meet critical workforce needs in the Department of Defense (DoD) and private industry, is funded by the Griffiss Institute, in partnership with the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense and the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate.
Currently in the United States, there are nearly 360,000 cyber-related positions going unfilled, according to a survey by (ISC)2, an international nonprofit that offers cybersecurity training and certification programs. Across the globe, the gap gets even larger at more than 3 million job openings.
Bertrand Cambou, a professor of nanotechnology and cybersecurity at NAU, is a principal investigator on the project, which he said will not only increase the quality of students joining the cybersecurity workforce but also increase the diversity of those qualified applicants, which is an important part of NAU’s mission.
“The challenge facing our nation to educate enough qualified talent in cybersecurity is getting increasingly complex,” he said. “The reliance of our society on information technologies is making cyberattacks even more damaging, while opponents have access to new tools such as powerful computers, artificial intelligence and quantum computing. The objective of the VICEROY program is to respond to this challenge by forging cooperation between universities and offers a broad curriculum with leading edge classes in cybersecurity to our students.”
The program, which is slated to start in the fall, will allow students at the five universities in the consortium to access specialized cybersecurity courses, wherever they are offered. Scholarships associated with the program will support participation of ethnically and economically diverse undergraduate students and ROTC cadets over a two-year period. The program also will provide DoD-related undergraduate research, capstone and internship opportunities.
“Developing a future-focused cybersecurity curriculum that anticipates the challenges and threats of tomorrow requires the kind of multi-university collaboration embodied in the VICEROY program,” Associate Dean and co-PI James Palmer said. “Our engagement with the partners in this consortium allows us to offer new educational, research and internship opportunities that will better prepare students for an evolving cybersecurity landscape.”
More information about VICEROY will be available at a later date.