PCC co-leads national cybersecurity task force with Towson University
Photos and Story by James Hill
The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C), located within the National Security Agency (NSA), awarded Towson University a $2.2 million, two-year grant (with an option to increase to $3.2 million) to co-lead a cybersecurity task force with Portland Community College.
The task force will partner with other NCAE-Cs, including the United States Naval Academy, Cedarville University, Coastline Community College, Metropolitan State University and University of West Florida, and will act as a national curriculum committee for the NCAE-C program. Cara Tang, a PCC computer information systems instructor, is co-leading the project, helping to kick it off at the Cyber Ed Workshop in Portland, Maine, a few weeks ago.
This particular funding source was reserved for schools that have the CAE designation, which both Towson and PCC have. Because of the college’s commitment to cybersecurity, PCC is designated by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.
“The recognition of PCC as having a high-quality program in cybersecurity is what made us eligible for this grant, and was certainly a factor in the fact that we were awarded the grant,” Tang said. “This project will help us at PCC, as well as any academic cybersecurity program, by offering cybersecurity curriculum materials that can be freely used, and in particular, by aligning the materials to workforce needs.”
This work comes at a time when the United States faces a large shortfall in the cybersecurity workforce. The task force will analyze available cyber curricula, perform a gap analysis to identify high-need areas to create a cyber-ready workforce and develop high-quality, relevant, free and publicly available cybersecurity curricula.
“One of the key outcomes of the project will be to create high-quality curriculum materials for emerging topics within cybersecurity that are highly sought by industry and which currently do not have sufficient curriculum coverage,” she said. “We’ll do this by identifying gaps in workforce needs and available curriculum, and working with pedagogical and industry experts to create high-quality curriculum for those areas.”
In February, Towson University invited Tang, as well as folks from a few other schools to discuss the possibilities. Then a project team was formed to write the NSA grant proposal.
“NSA wanted the project to be co-led by a university and a community college, thus PCC got involved in the lead role along with Towson,” Tang added.