U.S. Cyber Command enlists UCF to help address cybersecurity shortages

by | Apr 5, 2022

An arm of the Department of Defense (DoD) is recruiting the University of Central Florida (UCF) to help alleviate the nation’s cybersecurity workforce shortages.

UCF’s School of Modeling, Simulation and Training (SMST) announced the partnership with the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) on Tuesday, becoming the latest school to join its Academic Engagement Network (AEN) with USCYBERCOM.

The Orlando-based college will join nearly 100 universities and colleges nationwide to be part of a network that will be tasked with bolstering the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.

“This distinction further highlights UCF’s contribution to national security and our prestigious cyber program that has long been a top tier program at the university,” says Grace Bochenek, director of SMST. “We are pleased to be part of the AEN and do our part to engage the next generation of cyber professionals.”

The demand for cyber professionals continues to be at an all-time high. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor statistic, information security analysts’ jobs are expected to see a 33.3% growth through 2030. The median salary for these careers sits at $103,509.

UCF, which has emerged as a future powerhouse in the cybersecurity field, noted it is well-positioned to help meet the demand.

“For UCF, this is a major step forward towards our work in Cyber Education and Research,” says Bruce Caulkins, director of the Modeling and Simulation of Behavioral Cybersecurity program at UCF. “This partnership will be an excellent two-way street as we will benefit from the USCYBERCOM-led events, research collaborations and enterprise-wide internship opportunities for our students. USCYBERCOM, in return, will benefit from the wide range of expertise in cyber research and education, to include UCF’s cyber cluster, computer science department, and business department.”

UCF is home to the Cyber Security and Privacy faculty cluster, which conducts about $6 million worth of cutting-edge research in this area each year. Notably, the university boasts a four-time national championship cybersecurity team whose members are routinely recruited for full-time jobs by major tech companies like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook.

The university’s expertise also earned it a $2.5 million U.S. National Science Foundation grant to help train the next generation of cyber professionals.

UCF noted that its academic programs — specifically, its new cybersecurity and privacy master’s degree — will benefit from the new collaboration.

“We plan on leveraging the operational aspects of AEN while augmenting our undergraduate and graduate-level education, particularly our master’s degree in Cybersecurity and Privacy at UCF,” says Yan Solihin, director of the Cyber Security and Privacy faculty cluster and interim chair of the computer science department.


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