The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT) propose to continue and expand the Carolina Cyber Defender Scholarship Program supported by the CyberCorps(R) Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. The project will prepare highly-qualified cybersecurity professionals for entry into the government workforce, and will have an immediate impact on the information assurance and forensics capabilities of the federal workforce by developing well-trained cybersecurity professionals. The project will support community college students at the Forsyth Tech Community College (FTCC) through early mentoring and advising activities before their transfer to either UNCC or NCAT through established 2+2 pathways. Further, the proposed collaboration will help NCAT obtain CAE-R designation in research and contribute towards graduating under-represented cybersecurity researchers at the PhD level.
This project involves students in cybersecurity research and hands-on activities guided by a large team of experienced faculty, with sixteen current research initiatives and active funding from government agencies and private corporations. The core expertise is focused on Secure Software Development; Secure Network Administration; Cyber intelligence and Analytics; and Cloud Security. The NSF supported Industry/University Collaborative Research Center on Configuration Analytics and Automation provides a rich environment where students work on cutting-edge cybersecurity challenges and integrate with classroom education, which has generated many innovations, including a U.S. patent awarded to a team of SFS students at UNC Charlotte. The proposed program is designed to provide students with a solid foundation of cybersecurity, exposure to real-world cybersecurity problems, and hands-on experiences through competitions so that upon graduation they are well-prepared to meet the challenges of defending the nation's critical infrastructure. NCAT is implementing a new Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) approach for teaching cybersecurity. POGIL is based on the process of guided inquiry - a learning cycle of exploration, concept invention and application based on carefully designed materials that students use to guide them to construct cybersecurity knowledge.