FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2011 file photo, cyber security analysts work in the "watch and warning center" during the first tour of the government's secretive cyber defense lab, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The Homeland Security Department's Control System Security Program facilities are intended to protect the nation's power grid, water and communications systems. The federal government's plan to expand computer security protections into critical parts of private industry is raising concerns that the move will threaten Americans' civil liberties. Cybersecurity has become a rapidly expanding priority for the government as federal agencies, private companies and everyday people come under persistent and increasingly sophisticated computer attacks. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Advances in government computer networks have brought with them a host of new potential security threats, but some say the U.S. has lagged in developing experts to combat the problems.
The University of Maryland is now taking steps to fill that void.
A joint announcement from the University of Maryland and global security leader Northrop Grumman recently detailed a new partnership between the two, with the goal of creating a new generation of advanced cybersecurity professionals.
“Finding employees fully prepared to take on complex cybersecurity issues is a major challenge for corporations and government agencies," said Wes Bush, chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman.
The new program, Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES), will “produce a new generation of experts prepared to take on real-world cybersecurity challenges,” said Patrick O’Shea, UMd.’s Vice President for Research.
ACES has received support from local government officials.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said the program, “represents Maryland at its best.”
“I commend the University of Maryland and Northrop Grumman for developing a program that will give our students the skills and real world experience necessary to address […] cyber threats,” Congressman Steny Hoyer said.
Students can begin enrolling in ACES in the fall of 2013. Students selected for the honors program will come from a variety of education backgrounds -- computer science, engineering, business, public policy and social science. While in ACES, students will be immersed in an intensive living-learning experience designed to foster stronger bonds between students and surround them with the many aspects of cybersecurity. While in the program, students will take on large-scale, cross-disciplinary curriculum developed through industry consultation. Such curriculum will include general cybersecurity offerings, in addition to cybersecurity forensics, reverse engineering, secure coding, criminology and law and public policy.
Year-long capstone courses will give teams of seniors the ability to apply four years of education, as they solve large, complex cybersecurity problems. Summer internships, guest speakers and direct interactions with industry and government leaders will further immerse students in course material.
The new program serves as the first Regional Workforce Project of The Business-Higher Education Forum. The BHEF is the country’s oldest organization of business and higher education leaders dedicated to advancing innovative solutions to U.S. education challenges. University of Maryland System Chancellor, William Kirwan, serves as the Chair of the BHEF and Bush is the Vice Chair.
This partnership is one of 10 current BHEF STEM Regional Workforce Projects (though the first to fully come to fruition).
“This deeper collaboration exemplifies how BHEF members are no longer ‘admiring the problem,’ but providing real solutions,” said Brian Fitzgerald, CEO of BHEF, “…by creating the platform that engages undergraduate students … the University System of Maryland and Northrop Grumman are a national example others can follow.”
The ACES program will be funded in part by Northrop Grumman, with a $1.1 million grant to launch the program and continued support for an additional two years. The University of Maryland will match the initial grant and provide ongoing funding for the program.