New Cyber Education Program LaunchedUniversity of Maryland, Northrup Grumman Team up on ACES
The University of Maryland and Northrop Grumman have partnered to launch a landmark cybersecurity honors program for undergraduate students.
The program, Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES), will engage the best and brightest of students and teach them critical cybersecurity techniques to solve real-world problems.
"The idea is to challenge the best minds to be solvers of cybersecurity problems," says Dr. Michael Hicks, director for the Cybersecurity Center at the University of Maryland.
Forty-five students for the ACES program will be hand-picked from inter-disciplinary programs such as computer science, electrical engineering and computer engineering. Students will need top grades and strong technical background to be selected.
" In order to push people to think about new ways to build defenses and create secure software, students will need to be highly technical," Hicks says.
For example, students will learn how to perform penetration tests, identify vulnerabilities and fix them by actually attacking real organizations like the University of Maryland's own computer system. These hands-on exercises will be executed and monitored in a lab-based setting.
The program will expose students to emerging areas and cutting -edge technologies in all aspects of cybersecurity like forensics, reverse engineering, secure coding, criminology, law, business and public policy. The ACES program will aim to provide a broad perspective of IT security to students, such that they understand the policy and business implications in their decisions to protect systems. Students coming out of these programs will not only be capable technicians, but also leaders, Hicks says.
Mentorship in the form of industry participation will also be part of this program. Students will regularly go for site visits to see what is relevant in the field. Northrop Grumman will provide guest lecturers, participate in an industry advisory board, pose real-world problems for students to solve, and provide advisors and mentors for research projects.
Northrop Grumman has provided the university with a $1.1 million grant, which will go toward building top-notch facility for the students. ACES is a 'living and learning program' where all students live in the same dorm. "We want to create a sense of community because this makes them more competitive," Hicks says.
Students will have the option to intern with Northrop Grumman and other leading IT companies, as they prepare for security clearance. The program is set to begin in fall 2013.
"When students come out of this program they will be what industry will like them to be and much more than that," Hicks says.