Florida Atlantic University was awarded more than $800,000 by the state of Florida as part of a $15.6 million initiative to prepare students and mid-career professionals for jobs in the burgeoning fields of cybersecurity and information technology.
The $838,483 grant will help FAU market and grow existing cybersecurity, cryptology and business management certification courses and programs in the College of Business, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and the College of Engineering and Computer Science. These undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as programs, will help address a labor market shortage by encouraging more people to pursue careers in these fields.
While each of the three colleges features its own cybersecurity program and set of courses, they are uniquely linked, providing flexibility to meet the needs of students.
FAU will use the grant money to fund CAREERS in Cybersecurity. The project aims to provide curricular enhancements, expanded industry collaboration and internships, K-12 outreach activities, an interactive and informative website, and a regional mass marketing campaign to reach all interested students and workers in the community.
“This is a powerful partnership, having three colleges work together with industry to increase the cybersecurity workforce,” said Nancy Romance, Ed.D., FAU’s principal investigator in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and co-author of the grant proposal.
The funding comes from a joint effort of the Florida Department of Education, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity jobs are expected to grow by a faster-than-average 33 percent over the next 10 years, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report cited by the governor’s office. In addition, cybersecurity-related job postings have increased by 43 percent in the past year, as reported by the CyberSeek website.
“The CAREERS project provides all students and interested adults with a viable pathway to successful, high-quality jobs in cybersecurity, while also addressing the critical shortage of workers in these fields,” said Hari Kalva, Ph.D., co-author of the grant proposal and associate chair and professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
FAU’s award, one of 24 throughout Florida, will help the Department of Information Technology and Operations Management in the College of Business enhance its existing cybersecurity-related curriculum, said Nataliia Neshenko, Ph.D., a co-author of the grant proposal.
“Today’s cybersecurity reality calls for a close collaboration between academia and industry to address the shortage of highly skilled professionals,” she said.
The Charles E. Schmidt College of Science approaches cybersecurity from perhaps its most technical side, cryptography, according to Edoardo Persichetti, Ph.D., another co-author. He said the college has four cryptography professors, but a lagging enrollment in those classes.
“This grant is a very important step toward establishing a healthy increase in the number of students and professionals in cybersecurity in the College of Science,” he said.
FAU will work with South Florida Tech Hub, a nonprofit membership association representing more than 240 companies. Tech Hub will assist in finding career opportunities for those who complete the courses and certificate programs.