University of Maryland Receives $5M National Science Foundation Grant to Support Next Generation of Cyber Leaders

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has been awarded a grant totaling $5 million over five years from the National Science Foundation’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program to address today’s workforce demand by funding scholarships for students in UMD’s Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) program.

The first undergraduate honors program in cybersecurity in the United States, ACES was started with support from the Northrop Grumman Foundation to educate the next generation of cyber leaders and prepare them for the workforce. Recognizing the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to cybersecurity education, faculty from five schools and colleges across campus joined forces to submit the SFS proposal, including the A. James Clark School of Engineering, College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences, School of Public Policy, Robert H. Smith School of Business, and the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

“We are grateful that the National Science Foundation has chosen to support our ACES program, strengthening our ties to both the public and private sectors,” said UMD Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “This grant is a testament to the impact we can have when schools and colleges from across campus come together to address today’s greatest workforce needs.”

SFS supports programs that address cybersecurity education and workforce development, and focus on recruiting and training the next generation of information technology professionals, industry control system security professionals and security managers.

UMD is among four new universities to be included in the SFS program. “Each school provided evidence of a strong academic program in cybersecurity including designation as a Center of Excellence by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security,” said Victor Piotrowski, CyberCorps SFS lead program director in NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate. “They also bring unique additions to the CyberCorps SFS portfolio of 70 schools.”

Through its unique, multidisciplinary approach, ACES educates students to become cybersecurity leaders through experiential learning, group projects, research, internships, and a broad focus on the emerging discipline. The ACES curriculum consists of two linked academic programs over the course of four years. The ACES Living-Learning Program for freshmen and sophomores leads to an Honors College Citation in Cybersecurity. Juniors and seniors may then enroll in the ACES minor to supplement their bachelor’s degree. Each year approximately 75 students enter the living-learning program and approximately 50 students enter the minor.

“We are extremely proud of this well-earned recognition of UMD College Park’s strong cybersecurity program,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “Maryland is the cyber capital of the nation and is home to unique resources, including top federal agencies, cutting-edge research institutions, and over 1,200 innovative private sector cybersecurity companies. The integral role Northrop Grumman played in supporting UMD’s pioneering ACES program demonstrates the value of public-private partnerships in leveraging cyber resources. These talented students will be well-equipped to address the rapidly emerging and evolving cybersecurity challenges facing our nation.”

ACES students combine the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom with real world, flexible and hands-on experiences. Partnerships across the private and public sectors play a vital role in the success and impact of the ACES program and in the professional development of ACES scholars. The program’s key partners, like Northrop Grumman and the National Security Agency, help co-develop new courses to ensure that the competencies needed by industry are addressed, participate in guest lectures for ACES students, provide real world problems that student teams will address, and contribute advisors and mentors for capstone projects.

“As a founding corporate partner of the University of Maryland ACES program, Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation look forward to the program’s continued success helping to develop tomorrow’s cyber leadership,” said Sonal Deshpande, vice president, Northrop Grumman and Executive Sponsor for University of Maryland, College Park. “We are happy to see the NSF join this partnership and build on the program’s success by establishing opportunities for students to gain critical experience with federal agencies.”

Deborah Frincke, NSA Research Director, congratulated the University of Maryland on their new grant for the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students. “Students who participate in the ACES program, teamed with NSA’s cybersecurity research program, are already helping make cyberspace safer and more secure through their dedication and enthusiasm.”

Aligned with the university’s mission as a public university to serve our state and nation, after graduation, scholarship recipients through the SFS program will work for a federal, state, local, or tribal government organization in a position related to cybersecurity for a period equal to the length of the scholarship.

“Maryland is at the epicenter of cyber technology innovation. These funds will help our state continue that trend of excellence and ensure that the University of Maryland is able to keep training a technologically savvy workforce with the skills to meet our national security challenges,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. “I’ll fight to ensure that every student, in every corner of Maryland, receives the resources they need to thrive and pursue well-paying jobs.”

“Now more than ever we need to adequately prepare our students for the jobs of the future. Fortunately for Marylanders, UMD is leading this charge,” said U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen. “This funding will prepare Maryland’s best and brightest to compete for opportunities in the cyber sector and will help grow our state’s cyber workforce. I’m proud to see this well-deserved recognition of UMD’s ACES program, and I will continue to support efforts to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education and create good paying jobs across our state.”

For more information about the SFS for ACES grant, visit https://go.umd.edu/x84.

To learn more about ACES, visit http://aces.umd.edu/.


For a list of other Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc. (CAMI) partners and resources,  click here.
To read other cybersecurity news articles click here.

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