U.S. Cyber Command announced it will partner with 84 universities across 34 states this year as part of a program to build up the nation’s cybersecurity workforce and familiarize students with military cyber programs.
The partnership, part of the agency’s Academic Engagement Network, will give students at the university access to guest lecturers from U.S. CyberCom officials, non-public webinars about “pressing technical problems and non-technical problems” in cyberspace and other communications about changes in the cyber domain from the military agency.
According to an announcement, U.S. Cyber Command Executive Director David Frederick held a virtual meeting with representatives from the schools on Thursday to provide details on specific programs and plans that will be offered over the next nine months. The engagements will be structured around four lines of effort that will “serve as an investment in creating a robust and accessible pool of qualified cyber professionals, including future workforce issues, applied cyber research, applied analytics and strategic issues.
“Cyber Command’s goal for the AEN is to strengthen our relationships and communication with these participating institutions,” Frederick said in a statement. “This will improve and sustain our efforts to meet cyberspace educational requirements and workforce needs.”
The participating universities were not named; SC Media has contacted U.S. Cyber Command’s media office for a full list of the partners, and is awaiting a response. Of the 84 partners, CyberCom said 69 are universities, 13 are community colleges, nine are minority serving institutions and four are military war and staff colleges.
To be eligible for a partnership, schools must offer accredited two-year, four-year or post-graduate degree programs around cybersecurity and offer specialization or courses in computer science, cyber related engineering, cyber law, intelligence, applied analytics and other subjects with a nexus to cybersecurity.
Cyber Command officials plan to offer additional details on the program and partnerships in a follow-on briefing in the near future.
The program represents another quiver in the arrow as the Department of Defense and other agencies have struggled to recruit and retain top cybersecurity talent in the face of heightened threats in cyberspace from geopolitical rivals like China, Russia and Iran and waves of ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure, schools and local governments.
The latest defense authorization bill, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden last month, gives the commander of U.S. Cyber Command new authorities to stand up personnel management programs to “facilitate the recruitment of eminent experts in computer science, data science, engineering, mathematics and computer network exploitation.” It also mandated that DoD develop a pilot program that would train hiring offices at the Pentagon in how to attract and retain technical talent.