Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) was recently awarded a $4 million grant (over five years) by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish an innovative program to build a diverse talent pipeline for the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.
This fall, Drexel CCI is launching a CyberCorps® Mentoring and Scholarship Program (CMSP) to recruit, train and mentor student scholars to transition into cybersecurity positions within federal, state, local, or tribal government organizations.
As part of the program, CCI will develop a CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service (SFS) initiative that can contribute to improving cybersecurity by increasing the number and diversity of undergraduate students who complete cybersecurity degrees and then take positions within government agencies.
“As cyber crime increases, our nation is facing an ever-growing need for skilled workers able to respond to these threats,” says Drexel CCI Dean and Isaac L. Auerbach Professor Yi Deng, PhD. “The CyberCorps® program builds upon our long-standing commitment to building a diverse talent pipeline to address to our nation’s most pressing cybersecurity problems, while expanding opportunities for students to launch promising careers on the frontlines of cyber defense.”
Current Drexel CCI BS Computing & Security Technology and BS Computer Science, Computing Security Concentration majors entering their third year will be able to apply for the program this fall.
Once enrolled, CMSP scholars will participate in faculty-student mentoring, monthly cohort meetings, extracurricular workshops, and other activities designed to validate students.
A core focus of Drexel CCI’s CMSP is to strengthen national cybersecurity by supporting a diverse cybersecurity workforce, including recruiting and retaining women, underrepresented minorities, and veterans. According to the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)², women make up only 24 percent of cybersecurity workforce while minorities make up 26 percent.
“As a College dedicated to championing computing for all, it was important to us to embed diversity efforts into CMSP to ensure opportunities for underrepresented groups,” said CCI Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Brian Smith, PhD. “And, by helping to close the diversity gap, we are in turn strengthening our nation’s future cybersecurity workforce.”
CMSP scholars will also benefit from gaining real-world experience through three co-op positions (at least one of which in the cybersecurity field), with the final co-op position at a government agency. Upon graduation, students will then commit to a two-and-half year position in the U.S. government.
Drexel CCI is the 73rd institution to offer this program. The CMSP project team includes CCI Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Brian Smith, PhD (PI), Associate Teaching Professor Thomas Heverin, PhD, Assistant Professor William Mongan, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of CCI’s Women in Tech Initiative Michelle Rogers, PhD, and the Drexel School of Education’s Associate Professor Toni Sondergeld, PhD and Assistant Professor Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD.