The Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) in Bossier City, Louisiana received a $5 million continuation grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on August 29, 2014. The fiscal year 2014 grant supports the continued, nation-wide expansion of the CIC’s cyber education model. “We expect to reach over 2 million students and 15,000 teachers by 2020 – significantly expanding the pipeline of cyber professionals entering the U.S. workforce” says G.B. Cazes, Vice President of the Cyber Innovation Center.
By partnering with universities and high schools, the CIC enables communities across the U.S. to develop cyber focused education and professional development programs to produce high- skilled, knowledge-based workers. These cyber professionals will help DHS improve critical infrastructure resiliency and address the growing cyber threat to public and private networks.
This replicable, teacher-focused, cyber education and training model was created to empower teachers and transform classrooms. “Our approach to integrated curriculum and emphasis on teacher professional development is what makes our program so unique” says Cazes. The CIC’s cyber curriculum is being implemented in K-12 schools across the country and continues to expand through a robust network of partners and contributors.
According to Robin “Montana” Williams, Chief, DHS Cybersecurity Education & Awareness Branch, “This program has demonstrated that exposing teachers and students to the principles of cybersecurity through experiential learning and the integration of cybersecurity into existing curricula at the middle and high school education levels encourages cyber citizenship, increases enrollment in university and community college STEM programs, and ultimately increases the quantity and quality of the cybersecurity workforce, which ensures resiliency and protects our nation’s economic and national security.”
This continued success has attracted the interest of senior leaders in Washington as well. In May, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson accompanied Senator Mary Landrieu during a visit to the CIC. Secretary Johnson and Senator Landrieu met with students, faculty, and cyber subject matter experts to discuss cybersecurity and workforce development efforts. After learning of the new grant, Senator Landrieu said, “The partnership between the DHS and the CIC continues to build and expand our pipeline of qualified and engaged Cyber and IT focused students. With the demand for Cyber professionals growing both in the federal government and the in the private sector, we must continue to invest in programs like the one based out of the CIC … [And as] Chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to invest in cyber education to help grow this program and achieve our goal.”