Claflin University Receives Funding for Cybersecurity Education

Jan 16, 2015

Claflin University will receive nearly $2 million of the $25 million that has been awarded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) over the next five years for cybersecurity education. The grant will support the creation of a new cybersecurity consortium consisting of 13 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), two national labs, and a k-12 school district.            

“Claflin University will be at the forefront of producing cybersecurity professionals who will become a part of the workforce that will address such problems as the ones experienced by South Carolina’s Social Security Administration in recent years and Sony during the holidays,” said Dr. Verlie Tisdale, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics who will lead Claflin’s efforts in this initiative.

For its part, Claflin will work with neighboring South Carolina State University to establish a joint teaching lab, upgrade existing labs and hire new faculty whose concentration is cybersecurity. Cybersecurity curriculum will also be infused into existing computer programming courses at the University, and Claflin will develop a minor in cybersecurity.

U. S. Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina sees the grant as an invaluable academic opportunity for students.

“The ability to offer students at these schools the opportunity to diversify their education in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields is invaluable,” Clyburn said. “I have worked with the National Nuclear Security Administration to support math and science opportunities at HBCUs, and this program continues those efforts.  I am looking forward to seeing students at these institutions excel in this field and become the leaders for the next generation.”

Tisdale said Claflin University will enhance cybersecurity-related research and scholarly activities; provide professional development for faculty; provide k-12 outreach and pipeline development; provide k-12 teaching training and education; host student interns in its labs; provide advice on k-12 STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – development and activities; and participate in building cybersecurity awareness student, faculty, parents and the community.

The rapid growth of cybercrime is creating a growing need for cybersecurity professionals across a range of industries, from financial services, health care, and retail to the US government itself. By some estimates, the demand for cybersecurity workers is growing 12 times faster than the U.S. job market, and is creating well-paying jobs.

“Right now, cybersecurity is a major problem,” Tisdale said. “These attacks are becoming very, very rapid. At Christmastime, Sony was hacked, and none of the kids could play their (Sony PlayStation or Microsoft Xbox) games. Our aim is to make people aware of the problem and how they can protect their data, and to begin developing programming in order to avert cyber attacks. This consortium will develop a well-trained workforce in the state of South Carolina that can take care of these kinds of problems when they do occur.”

South Carolina is the most represented state in the grant, with seven of its HBCUs and the Charleston County School District receiving some $16 million of the funds for cybersecurity education.

The full list of participating consortium members are:

Norfolk State University (lead)

Clark Atlanta University
Paine College

Bowie State University

North Carolina
North Carolina A&T State University

South Carolina
Allen University
Benedict College
Claflin University
Denmark Technical College
Morris College
South Carolina State University
Voorhees College
Charleston County School District

US Virgin Islands
University of the Virgin Islands  

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

New Mexico
Sandia National Laboratories
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