UNC Charlotte Joins Statewide Cybersecurity Collaborative, Receives $2 Million NSA Grant
A new coalition that will enhance North Carolina’s economy and keep its citizens safe through education, research and outreach work in cybersecurity will benefit from a $2 million grant from the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity located within the National Security Agency.
The North Carolina Partnership for Cybersecurity Excellence (NC-PaCE) will bring eight of North Carolina’s universities and community colleges together with public agencies and private-sector businesses to address a growing workforce gap and establish cybersecurity as an economic development tool for the state through education, research, services and outreach. In helping to protect the state’s financial and intellectual property assets from cyber threats, the coalition will help drive the state’s economy by giving North Carolina businesses the skilled workers, knowledge and support that they need to grow.
UNC Charlotte’s College of Computing and Informatics (CCI) and its CyberDNA Center has been tabbed for inclusion, in part, because of its 22-year legacy of excellence and innovation in the field of cybersecurity, a claim few institutions can make. The vision of CyberDNA is to conduct cutting edge research leading to building blocks and design principles for safe Internet-based applications and communities. The CyberDNA Center thrives on strong multidisciplinary expertise from across UNC Charlotte to explore cybersecurity and privacy research, as well as education challenges of high societal-impact. It offers unique opportunities for collaborative R&D programs, academic degrees, concentrations, consortiums, seminars, workshops and serves as a talent pipeline for industry, and government agencies. Cyberseek, an organization that tracks the cybersecurity job market, ranks North Carolina sixth in the country in terms of the number of cybersecurity job openings and puts the state at twice the national average in terms of geographic concentration/location quotient, a measure of the concentration of cybersecurity job demand. Its data lists 17,660 security job openings in the state. Average annual salaries for such roles exceed $100,000.
“Cybersecurity is a business enabler,” says Professor Bill Chu, who helped establish CCI’s cybersecurity program more than 20 years ago. “This grant provides the resources to create a sustainable, high-quality education and training system in cybersecurity for NC governments and businesses.”
NC-PaCE will be headquartered in NC State’s Secure Computing Institute (SCI), which was created in 2019 to be a leading center for security education and research. East Carolina University, North Carolina A&T State University, UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington and Forsyth, Wake and Pitt community colleges are partnering institutions. This coalition will provide companies and public-sector agencies with a diverse and specialized set of security education, research and services. Their coursework and research curriculum through NC-PaCE will be tailored to the needs of the state to ensure that the trained workforce is ready to address challenges that are impeding North Carolina’s economic growth and entrepreneurial flourishing.