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Students and faculty at the Hume Center. Photo by Logan Wallace for Virginia Tech.

Preparing students for cybersecurity careers

Department of Defense awards Virginia Tech $1.5 million to prepare students for cybersecurity careers

Virginia Tech has been awarded approximately $1.5 million to fuel workforce development in cybersecurity and related professional roles as one of six U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) Senior Military Colleges participating in the U.S. Cyber Command Cyber Leadership Development Program (SMC2I).

“The program provides Virginia Tech with the opportunity to leverage our strengths and further expand the depth and breadth of our cybersecurity program to increase the pipeline of future military and civilian cybersecurity experts,” said Freeman, a professor of practice in the department of statistics and the College assistant dean for research in the Greater Washington, D.C., area. “The program will engage faculty across four colleges and numerous research centers to tap into a wide range of backgrounds and resources critical to help shape the next generation of cyber leaders.”

woman speaks at podium in tweed blazer with Virginia Tech logo in background
Laura Freeman is director of the Hume Center's Intelligent Systems Lab, a professor of practice in statistics, and the College of Science's assistant dean for research in the Greater Washington, D.C., area.

Freeman (aerospace engineering B.S. 2005; statistics M.S. 2006, Ph.D. 2010) is also a faculty member with the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) and director of the Intelligent Systems Laboratory at the Virginia Tech Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology. She said that Virginia Tech and the five other senior military colleges — the Citadel, the University of North Georgia, Norwich University, Virginia Military Institute, and Texas A&M— will work collaboratively on this national initiative

For Virginia Tech, the Integrated Security Destination Area, an interdisciplinary group of faculty from the College of Science, Corps of Cadets, Pamplin College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, CCI, the Hume Center, and other security related faculty, will recruit undergraduate and graduate students for the program.

The funds for SMC2I are part of a $10 million DOD appropriation to the U.S. National Security Agency that will work to identify and develop a diverse population of Virginia Tech students from various academic disciplines into technical experts and leaders in cybersecurity.

The Virginia Tech-led CCI is a highly connected network that engages institutions of higher education, industry, government, and nongovernmental and economic development organizations that launched in 2020 with a $20 million investment from the state. The initiative connects regional nodes across the commonwealth, each led by an institution of higher education, which are designed to be vibrant centers of research, learning, and innovation tailored to their local ecosystem.