The National Security Agency (NSA) has awarded Lake Superior College a $240,000 grant in conjunction with the Cybersecurity Workforce Education Initiative. The funds will be used to build a training lab for students that simulates work environments such as healthcare, government, transportation, finance and manufacturing and their specific cybersecurity challenges. Students will complete actual cybersecurity cases that start with a breach and may include forensics, reporting and mitigation.
“Cyberattacks are hitting every facet of America’s public and private sectors while becoming much more dangerous and difficult to defend,” said Vickie McLain, LSC computer science faculty member and recognized cybersecurity expert.
Students participating in this program will work with data, software and policies similar to what they would find when working in various organizations. In addition, other students will attempt to hack into their organization and steal their data.
“Our students need hands-on experience using cybersecurity tools in a real world setting,” said McLain. “It’s difficult for businesses to welcome students for practical experience because of their need to protect the confidentiality of clients and business data.”
Lake Superior College is a designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). LSC is the only two-year community and technical college in the Minnesota to earn this designation.
Through the Cybersecurity Workforce Education Initiative, the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Program is charged to raise the level of cybersecurity capabilities across the nation. NSA and DHS partner with academic institutions to enhance cybersecurity education nationwide and to develop the next generation of cybersecurity experts.
The goal of the program is to reduce vulnerability in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with cyber defense expertise.
LSC has taken a leadership role in providing focused cyber security education through a number of initiatives. Lake Superior College offers a Network Administration and Cybersecurity AAS degree that is available online or on campus. A transfer agreement with St Cloud State University allows LSC students to transfer and complete their bachelor’s degree on the SCSU campus.
LSC students can also access a CyberCorps Scholarship for Service with St. Cloud State University. The nationally funded scholarship program supports LSC students with AAS degrees to transition to a four-year degree in cyber security through a fully funded cyber scholarship program that includes student mentors from the university working with the LSC students. Six LSC students are currently CyberCorp Scholarship recipients which includes 30 credits of tuition a year, books paid for and travel money, plus a $22,500 per year stipend.
LSC’s popular and free summer high school cyber camps provide the opportunity to introduce high school students to the world of cyber security through hands-on workshops. Cyber camps are tentatively scheduled for June 2018.