Keeping computers and information systems secure is a major challenge. Business, industry, and government need well-prepared technicians who can prevent, detect, and investigate cybersecurity breaches, and the growth of cyber-threats has created a need for many more workers who have appropriate, specific knowledge and skills. To address these needs, CyberWatch West (CWW; http://cyberwatchwest.org), an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) regional center, will continue its activities that are strengthening and expanding cybersecurity education in the Western region of the United States. This area is home to many high-tech companies, utilities, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, which need a healthy supply of employees with cybersecurity knowledge and skills at all levels. CWW's cybersecurity education programs, hands-on cyber competitions and training workshops, approaches to faculty and student development, and industry engagement initiatives are proven models that should be shared broadly across the West and the nation. In cooperation with industry and government partners, CWW will educate students to fill thousands of job openings in cybersecurity and will thereby address national needs for the security of critical infrastructure, defense, healthcare, and commerce.
CWW was previously funded through NSF Awards DUE-1104278 and DUE-1361636. The center's mission is to strengthen the cybersecurity workforce in the Western United States by providing solutions to address the limited resources at community colleges through innovative curriculum development; building an online community for faculty professional growth and mentoring; creating a developmental pathway of competitions that facilitate growth of students' cybersecurity skills; and supporting other efforts at the state, regional, and national levels to develop and disseminate cybersecurity programs. The center will disseminate its model cybersecurity education programs throughout a 14-state region; expand curriculum development, faculty professional development, and student development opportunities; and strengthen and sustain industry partnerships to ensure up-to-date curricula as well as student internships and employment. In particular, CWW will support institutions seeking the National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance 2-Year Education (CAE2Y) designation. The center will develop model curricula that meet CAE2Y Knowledge Unit (KU) criteria and National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) criteria addressing workforce readiness. Expanding CWW's past work on "2 + 2 + 2" educational pathways, the center will develop a cybersecurity Transfer Model Curriculum (TMC) to facilitate automatic transfer for California community college students to universities in the California State University system. CWW will further serve college faculty in the region by addressing new topics and content in cybersecurity via webinars, workshops, the CWW website, and an innovative faculty mentoring program.