Carnegie Mellon offers program to train more minorities in cybersecurity

06/10/04

Select schools send faculty for training

PITTSBURGH--Carnegie Mellon University will again offer a program, July 6-10, designed to help Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) start new programs or expand existing ones in the area of information security. The goal of the program, which is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, is to increase the capacity of schools serving underrepresented minorities, to educate students and to produce more graduates with information security expertise, which is increasingly important to the nation's homeland security efforts.

The program is run by Carnegie Mellon's CyLab, a university-wide, multidisciplinary initiative that builds on more than two decades of Carnegie Mellon's leadership in information technology.

Each MSI selected as a partner in the program sends several faculty members to Carnegie Mellon for an intensive month-long program that enables them to develop expertise and curricula under the guidance of Carnegie Mellon faculty and experts from the Networked Systems Survivability Program in the Software Engineering Institute.

While primary funding comes from the NSF, CyLab corporate members make important contributions. This year, Microsoft donated funding to provide participating faculty members with laptop computers, and Cisco experts will teach a module in the program that will enable participants to obtain hands on experience installing and configuring security tools such as intrusion detection systems and firewalls.

This year's institutional partners are California State Polytechnic University, Mt. San Antonio College, Oakwood College, Hampton University, California State University at San Bernardino and Los Angeles, and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. Past participating schools include Howard University, Morgan State University and the University of Texas at El Paso.

"This program is an effective way to help institutions, serving underrepresented minorities, build better programs in the information security area, and help increase participation of minority students in filling the nation's growing need for information security professionals," said Don McGillen, executive director of Carnegie Mellon's CyLab.

McGillen reports the program has sparked creation of several new security modules and courses at many participating universities, including a new course in security engineering at California State University and an Internet security special topic course to graduate and senior-level-undergraduate computer science students at Texas A&M at Corpus Christi.

Carnegie Mellon received a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in 2002 to organize development of the program and coordinate the partnership with MSIs for the initial offerings. Information security and curriculum development experts from the Software Engineering Institute's Networked Systems Survivability program developed and deliver much of the program content, in collaboration with CyLab-affiliated faculty members. The program recently received an additional $150,000 grant for the 2004 program.

While whites earned 68.7 percent and Asians earned 8.6 percent of bachelor's degrees in science and engineering in 2000, blacks only earned 8 percent and Hispanics 6.9 percent of those degrees, according to the National Science Foundation. Hispanics make up 13.5 percent of the population, blacks 12.7 percent, Asians 4 percent and whites about 70 percent, according to the 2000 census. Carnegie Mellon was awarded funding to support capacity building initiatives in this area as a result of being certified by the National Security Agency as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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