Education

Published on January 26th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Allen University, Benedict College to receive part of $25 million federal cybersecurity grant program

Allen University and Benedict College will join 13 other historically black colleges and universities in training the next generation of experts to combat cyber attacks. The U.S. Department of Energy announced the launch of the Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline Consortium, a five-year, $25 million grant program.

“Cyber espionage is a new weapon and tool as potentially dangerous as a piece of ordnance, a bomb,” said Vice-President Joe Biden at a recent roundtable discussion at Norfolk State University. “It is staggering what potential vulnerabilities exist.”

Norfolk State University has been designated as the lead agent for the consortium of institutions. Students from participating HBCUs will be able to take part in internships at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Arizona and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The Charleston County School District in South Carolina will partner with the colleges through outreach programs to introduce information technology and cybersecurity to high school students in addition to training teachers.

“This is a tremendous honor… that CCCD would be named the only district in the nation to take part in grant program that will prepare our students to be on the cutting edge of cybersecurity,” said Charleston County Schools Acting Superintendent Michael Bobby. “The field of cybersecurity, in light of recent events, is perhaps the most critically important field of discovery and education of our time.”

South Carolina has been granted $16 million. Michelle Young, director of grants at Allen University, said the school would receive $1.2 million of the state’s share. South Carolina State University will serve as the host institution for the program’s cybersecurity lab. Students will be able to access the lab and participate in hacking competitions.

“This is something we’re very, very excited to be a part of,” Young said.

The federal program is tailored to minority students to increase their interest in cybersecurity and to develop a pipeline for jobs. Prior to the grant, Allen University gave students the option to earn a certificate in computer science. Young said the new funding will allow the school to add a certificate in cybersecurity

The grant also will complement the partnerships Allen University has with other schools. Young said students have trained on the Linux computer program with professors at North Carolina A&T and participated in a two-year pilot program with other HBCUs to receive IT certification.

White House officials estimate the demand for cybersecurity workers is growing 12 times faster than the U.S. job market and encompasses a range of sectors, including healthcare, financial services, retail and government.

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