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FAU Receives State Cybersecurity IT Grant for over $800K with support from Tech Hub

on July 31, 2022 / by Nikki Cabus ,

Read Time 5 Minutes

Florida Atlantic University was awarded more than $800,000 by the state of Florida as part of a $15.6 million initiative to prepare students and mid-career professionals for jobs in the burgeoning fields of cybersecurity and information technology.

The $838,483 grant will help FAU market and grow existing cybersecurity, cryptology and business management certification courses and programs in the College of Business, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and the College of Engineering and Computer Science. These undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as programs, will help address a labor market shortage by encouraging more people to pursue careers in these fields.

South Florida Tech Hub, a regional technology nonprofit supported the grant application. One component of the grant was regional coordination between higher education and the school districts which Tech Hub highly supports. While each of the colleges features its own cybersecurity program and set of courses, they are uniquely linked, providing flexibility to meet the needs of students. “The only way we are going to truly move the needle in regards to tech talent is through collaboration. This is not a city or county issue, but an issue for the entire state,” stated Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus.

The two main geographic regions for the statewide grant were the Greater Tampa Bay area and the Greater Miami Area, including the following counties: Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach and the following educational institutions: Florida International University, Miami-Dade Public Schools, Broward County Schools, Palm Beach County Schools, Miami Dade College, Broward College, and Palm Beach State College.

Florida Atlantic University, in collaboration with Broward College and Palm Beach State College, will use the grant money to fund CAREERS in Cybersecurity. The project aims to provide curricular enhancements, expanded industry collaboration and internships, K-12 outreach activities, an interactive and informative website, and a regional mass marketing campaign to reach all interested students and workers in the community.

Dr. Nancy Romance

“This is a powerful partnership, having three colleges [FAU, BC, and PBSC] work together with industry to increase the cybersecurity workforce,” said Nancy Romance, Ed.D., FAU’s principal investigator in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and co-author of the grant proposal.

FAU will work with South Florida Tech Hub who will assist in finding career opportunities for those who complete the courses and certificate programs.

“Tech Hub has many great initiatives that involve postsecondary (e.g., Postsecondary Education Committee; the Talent Committee) as well as almost weekly events across the region,” stated Dr. Romance. “With over 240 member companies across South Florida, Tech Hub has been a great sponsor and has been a main agent increasing industry support of education across all grade spans.”

The funding comes from a joint effort of the Florida Department of Education, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity. According to the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, or Cyber Florida, “The purpose of the Expanding Cybersecurity and Information Technology Pathways program is to increase the number of trained and/or educated workers in Florida that are prepared to fill cybersecurity/information technology (IT) jobs in the state and the Nation.”

Cybersecurity jobs are expected to grow by a faster-than-average 33 percent over the next 10 years, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report cited by the governor’s office. In addition, cybersecurity-related job postings have increased by 43 percent in the past year, as reported by the CyberSeek website.

Dr. Hari Kalva

“The CAREERS project provides all students and interested adults with a viable pathway to successful, high-quality jobs in cybersecurity, while also addressing the critical shortage of workers in these fields,” said Hari Kalva, Ph.D., co-author of the grant proposal and associate chair and professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Dr. Kalva is also on the South Florida Tech Hub Board of Directors and has been involved in other tech talent initiatives with the nonprofit through the Talent Committee. One recent initiative is the FenwayPipeline™  program addressing the shortage of talent by bridging the talent gap through a mentorship program for local tech students.

FAU’s cybersecurity grant award will help the Department of Information Technology and Operations Management in the College of Business enhance its existing cybersecurity-related curriculum, said Nataliia Neshenko, Ph.D., a co-author of the grant proposal. “Today’s cybersecurity reality calls for a close collaboration between academia and industry to address the shortage of highly skilled professionals,” she said.

The Charles E. Schmidt College of Science approaches cybersecurity from perhaps its most technical side, cryptography, according to Edoardo Persichetti, Ph.D., another co-author. He said the college has four cryptography professors, but a lagging enrollment in those classes. “This grant is a very important step toward establishing a healthy increase in the number of students and professionals in cybersecurity in the College of Science,” he said.

Across Florida, the following projects have been selected for funding through the Cyber/IT Pathways Grant program:

  • Project HaHa – FIU
  • Expanding Cybersecurity & IT Pathways – Miami Dade College
  • First Coast Cybersecurity & IT Pathways Project – FSCJ
  • Increasing Cyber Technicians 2022 – HCC
  • Hal Marcus College of Science & Engineering – UWF
  • Cloud Computing Initiative – St. Petersburg College
  • FIU Minecraft-based Cybersecurity Professional Development for K12 Teachers
  • CyberSkills2Work Florida/Center for Cybersecurity – UWF
  • Palm Beach Collaborative Cyber Pathway Project – Palm Beach State College
  • Expanding Cybersecurity & IT Pathways – Hillsborough County Public Schools
  • Hybrid-honeynet platform for CTI education – UNF
  • Cybersecurity Pathway for Public and Nonprofit Organizations – FIU
  • SCF Cyber/IT Pathway – State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota
  • SLPS Cybersecurity at LPA – St. Lucie County School Board
  • Cyber Security Lab – Florida Gateway College
  • Enhancing the Growth and Quality of Cybersecurity Programs (EGQCP) – FL Poly
  • Expanding the pipeline of the Cyber/IT workforce – USF
  • Applied Cybersecurity Fundamentals Continuing Education – Cape Coral Technical College
  • CAREERS in Cybersecurity – FAU
  • Towards Empowering the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals/Pathways – USF
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence Fellowship Program – FIU
  • The Modernization of Digital Information Technology – USF
  • Cybercrime Investigation Training for Florida Law Enforcement Officers – USF
  • Cybersecurity Professional Pathways for Women and URM – FAMU

“The 24 projects that will be funded through this $15.6 million are anticipated to train 27,000 Florida students over the next year. Click here to view the list of awards,” reads a Press Release from “In Florida, Governor DeSantis has prioritized cybersecurity, providing resources to our institutions to meet the demand of cybersecurity professionals,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz. “Raising awareness and interest in cybersecurity at the K-12 and postsecondary levels is crucial to meet the needs of businesses across Florida and create pathways for students to gain employment with a sustainable salary right after high school.”

Click here to view a complete list of each of the awards.

FAU Receives State Cybersecurity IT Grant for over $800K with support from Tech Hub