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UIUC to lead $2 million effort to create nationwide cybersecurity education network

10/30/2020 1:38:44 PM Kim Gudeman, CIRI

The Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute, led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has been selected to head up a $2 million project to research and develop a plan for a national cybersecurity education network. The research is being funded through a collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

The Hub & Spoke project seeks to address a national shortage of cybersecurity professionals by creating an academic regional hub and spoke model which CISA can implement. In this network, there would be a “hub” that will develop, coordinate and manage relationships with “spoke” schools within the region, to develop and provide standardized curricula. Spoke schools would be responsible for delivering vocational curricula to students, with a special focus on rural, minority, gender diverse, veteran, and state, local, territorial, and tribal populations

William Cope“We are not graduating enough cybersecurity professionals to meet growing demands,” said William Cope, professor of education policy, organization, and leadership at UIUC, who is leading the effort. “In this project, we won’t be restricted to a network of just traditional universities and community colleges. We’ll be working with other organizations, particularly with those who have access to these underrepresented populations, in an effort to truly create a collaborative cybersecurity education and training network at a national scale.”

CISA serves as the nation’s risk advisor, working with partners to defend against threats and build more secure and resilient cyber networks and infrastructure. In this capacity, the agency is leading an initiative to build the cybersecurity workforce, resulting in the award to CIRI.

Over the course of the next year, researchers will work to evaluate the current cybersecurity education landscape and build an operational plan for the proposed network. The evaluation will include a gap analysis, including instances in which new curricula needs to be developed to meet goals. Future efforts will focus on building out the hub and spoke network and developing and delivering cybersecurity curricula, aligned with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework, to students across the country through the network.

David NicolUIUC will work with Auburn University, Purdue University, and the University of Tulsa in the consortium.

“We recognize that holistic cybersecurity education is a complex challenge that will need many workers to accomplish,” said CIRI Director David Nicol, who co-leads the project. “We look forward to working with CISA and others to help ensure the security and resilience of our nation’s cyber infrastructure for many years to come.”