On Thursday, January 11, 2024, Capitol Technology University was invited to attend a presentation by the White House’s Office of the National Cybersecurity Directorate (ONCD) at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC - Essex Campus), where our university’s efforts to strengthen the cybersecurity workforce and educate more teachers across the nation were highlighted. In attendance were Dr. Bradford Sims, President of Capitol Tech as well as Dr. Bill Butler, Vice President of Cyber Science Outreach and Partnerships, who participated in a roundtable discussion about the exciting and impactful changes being made in cyber education.
This conference invitation recognized our university’s commitment to, and the announcement of, a new initiative to meet the national need for qualified and trained cyber educators by adding to its broad array of cyber education opportunities. Beginning in January 2024, this initiative includes the launch of two new programs: the Doctor of Education (EdD) in Cyber Science and the Master of Education (MEd) in Cyber Science with 12 students expected to be enrolled between 2024-2025. Additionally, the creation of the new senior university leadership role focused on implementing an ecosystem approach towards cyber education. This initiative is expected to further establish Capitol as a hub for educating cyber educators and address the need for such professionals, especially within high schools and community colleges.
As part of this initiative, Dr. Butler was recently appointed as Vice President of Cyber Science Outreach and Partnerships to foster our university’s continued efforts toward shaping the future of cyber science education. Dr. Butler’s distinguished 30+ year career in higher education and the field of cyber has had significant impacts on a global scale. From establishing long-lasting partnerships with industry leaders to securing critical resources for our students, Dr. Butler’s reputation in cyber is highly regarded.
Dr. Butler has helped develop several of our on-campus programs such as Cyber Saturdays, which help build the next generation of cyber-defenders and security professionals by engaging in fun, cyber-related activities and learning segments on select Saturdays throughout the year. Additionally, our Capitol Cyber Sleuths Program was developed in collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA) GenCyber initiative to address the continued need for skilled cybersecurity professionals by providing cyber-focused teaching resources for K-12 teachers and awareness of college and career pathways for them to impart to their students. Amongst many other impactful endeavors, Dr. Butler has also worked to secure a multi-million-dollar grant from the State of Maryland with the support of the Maryland Independent College and University Association (MICUA) for a major lab renovation project set to begin in Summer 2024, to foster a more collaborative makerspace for our students with updated, industry-grade equipment.
During Thursday’s presentation at the CCBC in Baltimore, MD, ONCD National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. and other members addressed community leaders in education on the next frontier of cyber education and the ONCD’s mission. Mr. Coker was recently appointed as the new ONCD director in December 2023 and serves as principal advisor to the President of the United States on cybersecurity policy and strategy. The ONCD was established by Congress in 2021 and is a component of the Executive Office of the President at the White House. The ONCD spearheaded the development of the President’s National Cybersecurity Strategy, which President Biden issued on March 2, 2023. Its mission is to advance national security, economic prosperity, and technological innovation through cybersecurity policy leadership. As a Baltimore native, Mr. Coker stated “how important CCBC and the many other academic institutions are to this community – to include our state and our nation.” The CCBC transforms lives by providing an accessible, affordable, and high-quality education that prepares students for transfer to a university and career success, strengthens the regional workforce, and enriches our community. Mr. Coker went on to explain how in 2023, “we had more than half a million vacant cyber jobs nationwide – 31,000 of which are in Maryland and more than half of those – 16,000 – are here in the Baltimore region. Our first challenge is making sure we have more people trained for these careers – careers that are positioned to grow in importance well into the future.” Addressing this workforce gap will require a collaborative effort across industry and academia, in which Capitol Technology University has been a foundational and forward-thinking institution for almost a century.
Dr. Butler stated that it was an extreme honor speaking at the ONCD conference, where representatives from all of Maryland came together in a collaborative and action-oriented spirit. During the roundtable discussions, centered around addressing the cyber workforce shortfall, he offered that “the cyber talent pipeline cannot be effectively addressed without a focused effort to increase the number of qualified faculty at the middle school to college levels. More scholarships for students, faculty, and cyber education programs are crucial. Capitol has invested in producing more qualified cyber faculty in Maryland by conducting an NSA GenCyber teacher-focused camp, updating HS/MS curriculum and creating innovative cyber education degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels.”
Some additional suggestions from the speakers during the roundtable focused on rewriting job descriptions, adjusting years of experience and education requirements, and improving security clearance time frames. These are just a few of the issues impeding the potential to fill cyber positions in both the federal government and contractor space. Also discussed were innovative programs to train veterans leaving active duty, those changing careers, and other non-traditional students in helping them better qualify for open cyber roles. This conference was part of the ONCD listening tour which is currently traveling around the nation to hear the issues our communities face and find the innovative solutions needed in bourgeoning a better, brighter cyber future.
Capitol Technology University has a unique perspective and a grounded foundation within the cyber arena, having cyber transfer agreements in place with all 18 community colleges in the state of Maryland, including the CCBC. We also regularly communicate with ONCD members, offering our input on important issues pertaining to cyber workforce education. Capitol has been recognized by the NSA as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (NCAE-CD) since 2003. In the last three years, Capitol has served as the northeast regional hub for the 110+ institutions within the NCAE from Vermont to Virginia. This grant has again built relationships along the east coast that will benefit both the cyber community and Capitol as we seek to educate more transfer students which are place-bound. Capitol regularly participates in the DoD Cyber Scholarship Program (CySP) and will seek to participate in the NSF Scholarship for Service (SFS) program this year. Capitol is committed to engaging County Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs around the state of Maryland to upgrade their cyber, artificial intelligence, and robotics curricula and continue to upskill the faculty to teach new and advanced topics.
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