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Purdue University Northwest awarded nearly $6M grant from NSA

Michael Tu (photo courtesy of Purdue University Northwest)

HAMMOND AND WESTVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The National Security Agency has awarded a nearly $6 million Cybersecurity Workforce Development grant to the College of Technology at Purdue University Northwest (PNW). The two-year grant will allow the university to collaborate with other higher education institutions to develop artificial intelligence and cybersecurity certification-based national training program for more than 425 transitioning military, first responders and other adult trainees.

The university is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education designated jointly by the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. PNW says the training program will be offered online and free of charge to the trainees.

“Receiving this highly competitive grant award of cybersecurity workforce development is a strong indication of cybersecurity education at PNW and expertise of our computer information technology faculty. This award will help fill the gap of shortage of cybersecurity workforce in this country,” said Keyuan Jiang, professor and chair of the department of computer information technology and graphics.

PNW will collaborate with Ivy Tech Community College, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

During the first year of the grant, PNW says the coalition will develop an artificial intelligence-cybersecurity curriculum that contains 12 courses divided into three tracks. Topics include Windows and Linux computer technologies, cloud technology and python programming, among others.

The training curriculum is expected to be mapped to existing courses in the cybersecurity programs at each participating institution. The university says this will allow pathways to be created for trainees to pursue degree programs at PNW and other participating institutions.

“As a Center of Academic Excellence, our bachelor of science degree in Computer Information Technology and its Cybersecurity concentration is recognized as one of the best cybersecurity programs in the nation,” said PNW professor of Computer Information Technology and director of the Center for Cybersecurity Michael Tu. “We are looking forward to introducing highly capable professionals into the workforce to assist with cyber infrastructure on a nationwide level.”

During the second year of the grant, the three training tracks with 12 courses will be offered online to trainees who were recruited in year 1 and year 2 and each of them is expected to take six courses. Trainees are expected to take certification exams and to earn industry and government recognized certifications.