CSM gets cyber grant

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $259,000 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 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, according to a CSM press release.

The funding will go toward the “Cybersecurity Workforce: Bridging the Gap” program under the direction of CSM’s business program coordinator Thomas J. Luginbill, CSM Business, Technology and Public Service Division chair, professor Bernice Brezina and business professor 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,” Luginbill said in the press release. “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 of IT decision makers across eight countries supported Luginbill’s assertion, according to the release. The survey found that 82% of employers report a shortage of cybersecurity skills, and 71% 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 in the release.

The NSF award for starts Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2022.

This is the second, significant NSF grant awarded to CSM this year. In February, 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.

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 www.csmd.edu/apply-register/credit/scholars-programs/stem-scholars/ for more information.