Va. Tech to lead cybersecurity workforce initiative
Old Dominion and Norfolk State announced as partners to fill workforce gap
Virginia Tech has received a $1.5 million award to lead an initiative that could help close a gap in the cybersecurity workforce.
The award, announced April 5, comes from the nonprofit Griffiss Institute, a New York-based STEM and defense technology incubator that runs the Department of Defense’s Virtual Institutes for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employ program, known as VICEROY. Under the award, Virginia Tech will partner with Old Dominion and Norfolk State universities to lead the Cybersecurity Research and Advanced Training of ROTC Students Virtual Institute, or CREATORS, to provide undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to learn about cybersecurity challenges and technology.
VICEROY originated from the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act and is intended to provide a pipeline of diverse graduates with cyber and electromagnetic skills who are ready to serve in those fields within the military or as civilians within the defense industrial base.
CREATORS will include summer internships and a year-long project that will start in the fall. Peter Beling, principal investigator on the project, said CREATORS will include about nine students per university and he hopes to spend the summer working with students to set up the project, which is still being developed.
“In the first semester, they’ll be sort of setting up and characterizing some kind of environment that might be subject to cyberattacks, like a collection of software defined radios,” Beling told Virginia Business. “Communication devices would be one example of it. It could be a classical kind of computer network that you might find in a business, or, in any kind of organization. In the second semester, they’ll focus on actually demonstrating attacks against the environment and defenses.”
The CREATORS institute builds on other advances Virginia Tech has made in cybersecurity education and research, including the launch of its National Security Institute last fall. In January, the university received a $2.8 million defense department grant to continue developing its Department of Defense Senior Military College Cyber Institute, which aims to equip undergraduates with skills and experience to join the cyber workforce.