Georgia is getting serious about training students for careers in cyber security. In January, Governor Nathan Deal announced a $50 million investment in the FY2017 amended budget for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Facility in Augusta. The new center will complement the U.S. Army Cyber Center for Excellence at Fort Gordon, which has been in operation since 2010. On Thursday, Senator David Perdue announced that he is cosponsoring S.592, the DOD Cyber Scholarship Program Act of 2017.
S.592 (a bipartisan bill with Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia as the first signer) reauthorizes funding for and “reinvigorates” the Information Assurance Scholarship, a federal program first instituted by the 2001 National Defense Authorization Act that fell by the wayside. Although a summary is not yet available for S.592, the original scholarship program prepared undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students for information security careers and then required them to pay back the DOD for each year of funding with a year of service. S.592 will presumably direct students into cyber training courses like those that will be offered in Augusta. It will also expand cyber scholarships for students earning associate’s degrees at community colleges and 2-year program students at schools designated as Centers of Academic Excellence by the NSA and Department of Homeland Security.
Several of Georgia’s leaders in higher education have praised S.592. Comments from these leaders were highlighted in Senator Perdue’s press release and can be found below the fold.
“This scholarship presents opportunities for all involved, helping to meet the Department of Defense’s demand for cyber professionals while assisting students with the rising cost of education,” said Dr. Linda M. Bleicken, President of Armstrong State University.
“There is a global urgency to develop a cybersecurity workforce, with expected sector growth estimated at 20 percent during the next decade. We are grateful for Senator Perdue’s support of a scholarship program that will empower students to consider this career path with less worry of educational debt and help universities to provide more high-impact cybersecurity leaders to the DOD workforce,” said Dr. Brooks A. Keel, President of Augusta University.
“We are delighted to hear about any efforts that will make it easier for students to become proficient in cybersecurity, a popular academic program that simply cannot keep up with the workforce demands,” said Dr. Chris Markwood, President of Columbus State University.
“A $1.5 million shortfall in cybersecurity trained workers is being projected by 2020 and recent data shows that more than 200,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are unfilled. Incenting and supporting students through scholarships is a great way to support these efforts,” said Dr. Traci Carte, Interim Executive Director of the Institute for Cybersecurity Workforce Development at Kennesaw State University.
“Middle Georgia State University is carefully following the progress of the DOD Cyber Scholarship Program Act. We stand ready to educate current and future generations of college students to take on roles defending our nation against digital threats, both foreign and domestic,” said Dr. Alex Koohang, Dean of the School of Information Technology at Middle Georgia State University.
“An associate, bachelors, or advanced degree in cyber can change not just a student’s future, it can open up opportunity for entire families and communities. And, scholarship-for-service programs are a key factor in filling the workforce gap in government and public sector cyber job openings,” said Dr. Bryson R. Payne, Director of the Center for Cyber Operations Education at the University of North Georgia.