This project from Whatcom Community College (WCC), in collaboration with California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) will run an apprenticeship-like, cohort-based program known as the Community College Cyber Pilot (C3P) Scholars Program. The aim is to place highly qualified cybersecurity professionals in government positions, in alignment with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018. This project will explore pathways for non-traditional students and veterans to enter the cybersecurity field and successfully complete a cybersecurity program and secure gainful employment in the field. In this case, the term "non-traditional student" refers to those who do not hold a prior technical degree but do hold a bachelor's degree. The long-term goal of the project is to build the institutional capacity required for community colleges to independently run successful SFS programs, as well as to increase the diversity of the student population in cybersecurity programs and the number of cybersecurity professionals in federal employment. WCC and CSUSB both have designations as Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) Cyber Defense; furthermore, WCC runs CyberWatch West, the regional cybersecurity education consortium, while CSUB currently has an active CyberCorps(R): Scholarship for Service (SFS) program.
The proposed C3P Scholars Program will run across six pilot colleges, including WCC, and a total of 30 students will receive scholarships. The C3P project has the following goals to be accomplished over a three-year timeframe: (1) Develop a replicable model program for C3P, expanding the SFS CyberCorps(R) program to community colleges; (2) Recruit pilot colleges and deliver faculty/institutional SFS capacity building academy covering critical program and institutional components; (3) Support C3P cohorts in recruitment and retention of 30 highly qualified students to participate as SFS scholars in the C3P program; (4) Provide guided pathway for SFS Scholars including assessing work readiness through a series of assessments related to NICE work roles and usage of an e-portfolio system for students to document their skills for potential employers; (5) Increase the number of cyber professionals working in federal jobs; and (6) Expand the number of potential community college PIs and institutional capacity for effective grant/fiscal management for the SFS program.
Co-funding for this project is provided from the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) and NSF Scholarships in STEM (S-STEM) programs, reflecting alignment of the project with major emphases of the ATE program on involvement of community colleges and the S-STEM program on financial and co-curricular support for high-achieving students with demonstrated financial need.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.