UNCW Part of $2 Million Initiative to Boost NC’s Cybersecurity Education, Research

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

UNCW is part of a statewide cybersecurity coalition awarded a $2 million grant from the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity located within the National Security Agency.

The North Carolina Partnership for Cybersecurity Excellence will bring eight state universities and community colleges (UNCW, North Carolina State University, East Carolina University, North Carolina A&T State University, UNC Charlotte and Forsyth, Wake and Pitt community colleges) together with public agencies and private-sector businesses to further establish cybersecurity as an economic development tool through education, research services and outreach.

Professor of Information Systems Ulku Y. Clark is UNCW’s lead principal investigator. Other faculty and staff involved are Congdon School of Supply Chain, Business Analytics and Information Systems’ Jeff Cummings, Jeff Greer, Minoo Modaresnezhad, Geoff Stoker and Manoj Vanajakumari; Department of Computer Science’s Laurie Patterson, Hala Strohmier and Ron Vetter; and Information Technology Services’ Jonathan Lancelot and William Wetherill.

The PIs from the eight coalition schools will meet in late November to begin making decisions on project funds distribution. Projects that UNCW faculty are interested in advocating include Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification workshops, enhancing apprenticeship programs and developing tools for teaching enterprise cybersecurity. 

Clark said the NC-PaCE award will aid UNCW in three ways:

  • UNCW offers an array of cybersecurity-related academic programs. A new cybersecurity major will begin in fall 2022*, the first cybersecurity undergraduate major offered in the UNC System. Participation in NC-PaCE will help accelerate the maturation of the program with the goal of graduating more students with higher cybersecurity skill levels.
  • UNCW’s Center for Cyber Defense Education is a prototype for promoting an interdisciplinary approach to cybersecurity education and partnership with local businesses and government entities. Participation in NC-PaCE will provide resources for expanding partnership opportunities to address defined regional cybersecurity needs.
  • UNCW offers a spectrum of undergraduate and graduate academic programs based on various facets of digital technology development and application. Those working with digital technology need to be knowledgeable in ways to assure cybersecurity, requiring specialized knowledge developed through research and discovery. Participation in NC-PaCE will provide resources for cybersecurity technology and economic development.

UNCW’s Center for Cyber Defense Education, which Clark directs, hosted the third annual Cybersecurity Awareness Conference on Oct. 23. The one-day conference, held during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, featured speakers from business, academia and government discussing a variety of cybersecurity-related topics.  

-- Caroline Cropp

*pending SACSCOC approval