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Drexel Cybersecurity Institute And U.S. Army Reserve to Train Next Generation of 'Cyber Soldiers'

February 10, 2015

Drexel Cybersecurity

Representatives from Drexel's Cybersecurity Institute met with administrators from the U.S. Army Reserve to formalize an agreement that will make Drexel one of six national cybersecurity training centers for reservists.

Cyberspace is rapidly becoming the battleground of the 21st century. The prevalence and magnitude of cyber attacks during the last 18 months has illuminated the need for sophisticated soldiers and savvy security professionals to fortify the information systems and electronic data on which our nation now depends. This demand has led the U.S. Army Reserve to partner with six academic institutions, including Drexel University, to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

In a partnership formalized today, called the U.S. Army Reserve Cyber Public Private Partnership Initiative (Cyber P3), Drexel joins the University of Washington, George Mason University, The University of Texas at San Antonio, Norwich University and the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs as six centers of cybersecurity training for the U.S. Army Reserve.

“The demand for these individuals and units far outpaces the current cyber soldier and unit inventory,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, Chief of the United States Army Reserve. “The GAO estimates that there is currently a need for 40,000 cybersecurity professionals just to satisfy the government’s demand. Our belief is the Cyber P3 effort will serve as a seed to enhance these critical efforts and lessen the skilled soldiers shortage gap.”

Each school in the Cyber P3 will be able to give reservists the training necessary to receive advanced foundational cyber skills and the potential equivalency for cyber Military Occupational Specialty Qualification, which would enable them to become specialists in the Army. They will also have the opportunity to enroll at the schools with scholarships provided through the program and the G.I. Bill.   

“The goal of the program is to train and educate Army Reserve Soldiers to be elite cybersecurity professionals through classroom work and field experience,” Talley said. “Each of these schools have been chosen for their excellence in cybersecurity research, teaching and their experience in helping the public and private sectors address cyber security issues.”

Since its opening in 2014, Drexel’s Cybersecurity Institute has partnered with local businesses and government agencies to help guide them through the murky realm of securing their electronic data and communications, as well as conducting extensive research in the field. The Institute has built informal partnerships with local Army and Air Force reserve units to train personnel for their expanded missions in cybersecurity –partnerships that will continue to be strengthened by the Cyber P3 program.

Reservists in the Cyber P3 program will also be able to avail themselves of Drexel’s cybersecurity-related degree programs, including a master’s of science in cybersecurity, and an online bachelor’s of science in computing and security technology. These programs are offered out of Drexel’s College of Computing & InformaticsDrexel C in partnership with its College of Engineering. They will also benefit from Drexel’s extensive co-op program, which gives students extensive workplace experience as part of both the graduate and undergraduate curriculum.

Dr. Steven Weber Dr. David Fenske

“Linking up with the Army Reserves is a natural connection for the Cybersecurity Institute,” said Norman Balchunas, director of strategic solutions at the Drexel Cybersecurity Institute, who has extensive experience in information warfare from his time as a colonel in the Air Force. “Our missions are one in the same: educate the next cadre of cyber intelligent professionals that our nation requires to counter emerging threats and risks. This program will turn out top-notch cybersecurity leaders who will be prepared to take positions both in the armed forces and the government, as well as the private sector.”

Long-range goals for the program will look at building cybersecurity research and training laboratories in each of the partner institutions and formalizing job-placement procedures for graduates of the program. As part of the agreement, USAR program leaders are also charged with establishing a career network for Cyber P3 graduates and building a cybersecurity mentorship program for middle and high school students. 

“The power of the Army Reserve is matching civilian professional skills with their military careers; this is a powerful and effective way to maintain solders’ advanced skills demanded by the Army and DoD,” Talley said.

For information about getting involved with the Cyber P3 program at Drexel contact Norman Balchunas at