College receives grant to boost cyber security workforce

The National Science Foundation has recognized Pennsylvania College of Technology’s commitment to tomorrow’s workforce by awarding the institution a grant intended to bolster the pipeline of information assurance/cyber defense professionals.

The CyberCorps grant will facilitate the college’s efforts to excite high school students about rewarding careers in cyber security. The college is developing an after-school program for high schoolers, who will earn college credit for free while being introduced to the academic and professional aspects of the information security field.

“There is a tremendous demand for qualified professionals in the information assurance/cyber defense sector,” said Sandra Gorka, associate professor of computer science and the college’s principal investigator for the grant. “The opportunities are varied, and salaries in the field are well above the national average. This program can be a valuable introduction and steppingstone to fulfilling careers.”

The college anticipates that up to 70 students will complete the program during the three-year grant. Thereafter, the college projects approximately 40 students annually participating. At least 50 percent of the students are expected to pursue a cyber security-related baccalaureate degree.

“The program made possible by the NSF grant will help infuse well-qualified, fresh talent into a career area that is vital for our nation’s security,” Gorka said. “We plan on sharing our model with institutions across the country, so they can replicate or adapt it. The benefits of the program will have broad societal impact.”

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