National Science Foundation Awards CSM $258,912 to Grow Region’s Cybersecurity Workforce, Boost Students’ Credentials

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $258,912 grant to the ‘Cybersecurity Workforce – Bridging the Gap’ project at the College of Southern Maryland which is a niche cybersecurity curriculum focused on the nation’s cyberspace and information systems defense.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the College of Southern Maryland a $258,912 grant to support the college’s efforts to grow a cybersecurity talent pipeline in Southern Maryland. The funding will go toward the “Cybersecurity Workforce: Bridging the Gap,” program under the direction of CSM Business Program Coordinator Thomas J. Luginbill, CSM Business, Technology and Public Service Division Chair and Professor Bernice Brezina and CSM Business Professor Dr. Mary Beth Klinger.

“It is our goal to deliver a diverse, inclusive, educated and skilled workforce to local military installations, and assist in meeting the workforce gap in the surrounding Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,” shared Luginbill. “As educators, we have significant influence over shaping the leaders of the future, and this future depends on cybersecurity. We see cybersecurity growing as a vital component of business, commerce, and everyday life. The importance of this NSF grant can’t be stressed enough.”

A recent survey by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) of IT decision-makers across eight countries supported Luginbill’s assertion. The survey found that 82 percent of employers report a shortage of cybersecurity skills, and 71 percent believe this talent gap causes direct and measurable damage to their organizations.

“The United States faced a shortfall of almost 314,000 cybersecurity professionals as of January 2019,” CSIS reported in an article titled ‘The Cybersecurity Workforce Gap.’ “To put this in context, the country’s total employed cybersecurity workforce is just 716,000. According to data derived from job postings, the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs has grown by more than 50 percent since 2015. By 2022, the global cybersecurity workforce shortage has been projected to reach upwards of 1.8 million unfilled positions.”

According to Luginbill, the ‘Cybersecurity Workforce – Bridging the Gap’ project at CSM will introduce a niche cybersecurity curriculum focused on the nation’s cyberspace and information systems defense.

The program enhancements include the addition of a new business area of concentration in Cybersecurity Management in the Associate of Arts degree in Cybersecurity. It also includes “stackable” certifications which give students an opportunity to earn professional cybersecurity and industry certifications. These value-added cyber certifications, such as CompTIA Security+ will be built into the program and the grant will help with materials, study tools, and other coursework to help students prepare for these exams and industry certifications.

“This is going to help our students by providing additional avenues to earn solid credentials to advance their careers in the cybersecurity field,” Luginbill said.

This NSF award for ‘Cybersecurity Workforce – Bridging the Gap’ project starts October 1, 2019 and ends September 30, 2022.

This is the second, significant NSF grant awarded to CSM this year. In February 2019, CSM received news that it was receiving nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program. That grant helps to address the need for a high-quality STEM workforce in a variety of STEM disciplines throughout Southern Maryland.

“This is a very competitive program,” shared NSF Program Director and Expert Elizabeth Teles, who oversaw the grant award at that time. “CSM succeeded in securing additional grant money because they proved that they are building on success.”

Students who qualify as academically talented, with demonstrated financial need and who have declared a STEM major, including programs in applied science and technology, biological sciences, computer information systems, computer science, engineering, engineering technology, information services technology, information systems, cybersecurity and physical sciences can apply for the S-STEM NSF grant. Visit https://www.csmd.edu/apply-register/credit/scholars-programs/stem-scholars/ for more information.

You may also be interested in reading: 

CSM Students – Turned CSM Employees – Advance in National Cyber FastTrack Competition, Earn Scholarships

CSM Students Get on the Maryland Fast Track, Tackle Real-World Cyber Threats

About NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” NSF is vital because we support basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future. Learn more.

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