Last year, Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) was awarded a $4 million grant (over five years) by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to launch an innovative program to build a diverse talent pipeline for the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. This new program, known as the CyberCorps® Mentoring and Scholarship Program (CMSP), is designed to recruit, train and mentor student scholars to transition into cybersecurity positions within federal, state, local, or tribal government organizations. In addition to three co-op positions in the cybersecurity field during their time at Drexel, CyberCorps® scholars must commit to working full-time for a government agency for three years after graduating from Drexel.
In addition to conducting weekly cybersecurity activities together, Drexel’s 2020 CyberCorps cohort has contributed firsthand to protecting Drexel's network. During one mentoring meeting with Associate Teaching Professor and CyberCorps® faculty mentor Thomas Heverin, PhD, CyberCorps students were using Kali Linux, an ethical hacking tool, to explore vulnerabilities in CCI’s network. “We found a critical vulnerability on a cloud computing virtualization platform and tested ways to successfully exploit that vulnerability,” said Heverin. The cohort quickly reported the problem to CCI’s IT team and Drexel’s Bug Bounty program, an initiative created with the purpose of encouraging any users to report bugs and cybersecurity vulnerabilities to Drexel’s information security team. The 2020 CyberCorps cohort – Andy Zeyher, Callie Kuhfuss, Jayme Hendrickson, Katie Miller and Nirav Brahmbhatt – are now listed among the program's 2020 Successful Bounty Hunters.
Meet some of the members of CCI's first CyberCorps® cohort:
BS Computing & Security Technology ‘22
Jayme first heard about the CyberCorps® program through her computing security courses taught by Dr. Heverin and was drawn to the potential opportunity of completing a co-op at a government agency. This fall, Jayme is completing her last co-op at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the largest of the U.S. Navy's five system commands, on their cybersecurity team. “I cannot wait to get hands-on field experience while working on Navy ship systems,” Jayme said. “Computer systems on Navy ships contain very valuable data, and it will be very interesting to see all the processes that go on to secure and defend that data from attackers.” Jayme hopes to return to NAVSEA after graduation and pursue graduate school for a master’s in cybersecurity.
BS Computing & Security Technology
As working in the cybersecurity field in the federal government is a lifelong dream for Nirav, the training and financial support that the CyberCorps® program provides has helped to make that dream a possibility. “My career goal is to be a cyber forensic analyst for the Intelligence Community to improve cybersecurity for critical infrastructure and support the agency mission,” Nirav said. He credits his positive experience to the experiential learning format of the CyberCorps® program as well as the mentorship of Dr. Heverin and Assistant Teaching Professor and faculty mentor Andrew Calhoun. “My experience with the CyberCorps® program has been astonishing,” Nirav said. “We learn how to use Kali Linux, with pen-testing tools like Metasploit for attacking a system and remote hosting the devices, Wireshark with VirusTotal for forensic and analyzing vulnerabilities using the National Vulnerability Database (NVD), and US-CERT.” Prior to his interview with NAVSEA, he and fellow scholars were offered practice interviews, as well as resume and cover letter guidance. Nirav says he is especially looking forward to his co-op at NAVSEA to help him build his network and professional skills.
BS Computer Science
During her sophomore year, Callie was struggling to find the right academic path, but she knew she wanted to land somewhere in the cybersecurity field. After meeting with CCI faculty to brainstorm, she was encouraged to apply to the CyberCorps® program. “As I studied cybersecurity more, I realized that this field is where I belong, so when the application for CyberCorps® opened, I immediately applied,” Callie said. “The CyberCorps® program was where I could prove to myself that I can build myself up, that I could make something of my name, and that I could go above and beyond what I thought was possible for myself and finally do incredible work for the people around me.” She lauds the supportive environment offered by the CyberCorps® team and says of her peers: “we're constantly surprising ourselves with what we're capable of doing together and we're always learning something new.” Callie’s career goal is to work in cyber forensics at the FBI, specifically averting cyber-attacks. “I especially want to work with stopping cyber criminals, child pornography and sex trafficking, namely on the deep web,” she said. Callie will begin her co-op at NAVSEA this fall, where she is looking forward to learning more about analyzing and testing systems to find vulnerabilities.
BS Computing & Security Technology
The CyberCorps® program was the first scholarship program that felt like the right fit for Andy. “CyberCorps® made me feel like I could actually improve on my skills and provide the mentoring that I was hoping to find somewhere from within Drexel,” he said. In the past few weeks, Andy says he has learned a ton, and credits the weekly meetings and group discussions with increasing his cybersecurity knowledge and providing him real-world skills in resume writing and interviewing. As for career aspirations, Andy hasn’t yet settled on any particular field, but he is hoping to gain additional insight and experience at his upcoming Systems Integration and Test Engineer co-op at Lockheed Martin as well as his time working for the government in the near future.
The College is accepting applications for the 2021 CyberCorps® cohort until October 13, 2020. All full-time, face-to-face undergraduate students in the BS Computing & Security Technology and BS Computer Science, Computing Security Concentration majors are encouraged to apply. Visit our CyberCorps® webpage for additional eligibility requirements and application details.