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Cyber Security Education Consortium Awarded $2.7 Million Grant to Expand Workforce

The Cyber Security Education Consortium has been awarded a prestigious $2.7 million three-year Advanced Technological Education grant from the National Science Foundation to help reverse the outsourcing and offshoring of high-tech jobs.

“America is an economic superpower, but its per capita production of technical workers is dropping,” said Sujeet Shenoi,  F. P. Walter professor of computer science, University of Tulsa. “Already more than two million technological workers in China and India are working in U.S.-related jobs, and the number could quadruple in 10 years.”

CSEC was launched in Oklahoma in 2002 to build cyber security programs at technology centers and two-year colleges and now has grown to an eight-state consortium of technology centers, community colleges and the University of Tulsa. “It has grown beyond our expectations,” said Sheryl Hale, research and development manager, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. “We now have 32 institutions with 105 instructors. More than 1,250 students are pursuing degrees and certifications, and more than eight states have benefited from CSEC’s advanced training opportunities.”

The grant titled, CSEC: Reversing the Outsourcing Tide in Mission-Critical Disciplines, will continue growing cyber security education and workforce development programs at two-year institutions in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.  At the same time, CSEC will create “centers of excellence” in the strategic areas of secure coding, automation and control systems, and mobile communications devices. The consortium’s primary objective is to provide high-quality cyber security programs in at least 19 metropolitan areas in the eight-state region. “The goal is to annually train 2,500 students and 3,000 incumbent workers with advanced skills that will stimulate job growth and stem the tide of outsourcing and offshoring,” said Shenoi.

Gov. Brad Henry said the ATE centers of excellence will be vital to retaining and creating jobs in this region. America must reverse the tide of offshoring by spurring high-tech job creation,” he said. “CSEC's centers of excellence will serve as hubs for economic development by creating a globally competitive workforce that will attract high-tech companies."

Gov. Henry added that CSEC has thrived because of the synergy of the educational partnerships between all three branches of Oklahoma’s higher education system: the CareerTech system, Oklahoma’s largest community colleges, and the University of Tulsa, a Carnegie research and doctoral university. “CSEC’s  latest initiative capitalizes on its demonstrated success in creating a highly skilled cyber security workforce,” he said.

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education serves as the lead institution for Oklahoma in partnership with six technology centers and three community colleges – Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and Rose State College. The University of Tulsa, a national leader in cyber security education and research, serves as a mentor to the two-year institutions.

CSEC’s curriculum at consortium institutions is recognized for its quality, breadth and depth. Oklahoma schools were some of the first technology centers and two-year colleges to offer Committee on National Security Systems certifications.  In fact, Rose State College is the only community college in the country to offer all six CNSS certifications.

“Because of their expertise and hands-on experience, CSEC graduates are highly sought after by employers,” said Hale. “Many graduates have continued their education and training at major universities.”  Articulation agreements provide students with seamless education pathways all the way through doctoral degrees.

The  ever-increasing complexity of wireless technology and electronic data is escalating the need for trained professionals in digital forensics, information security, secure coding, control systems and mobile communications devices. CSEC is poised to make a significant workforce impact and contribute to national homeland security efforts.

Written by: Paula Bowles

Publish Date: October 15, 2009

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