Preparing Cybersecurity Technicians with the Technical and Entrepreneurial Skills Required to Work as Independent Contractors
Across the nation, thousands of high-wage technician positions are available in cyber defense fields. Filling these positions would greatly increase the ability of businesses to prevent cyber breaches and to remediate them when they occur. Many businesses hire contractors to fill this workforce need. Clearly, these contractors must have knowledge and skills in cyber defense. However, to be successful independent entrepreneurs or serve as entrepreneurs within consulting firms, they also need business knowledge and skills. This project aims to prepare cyber defense technicians with both technical and business skills. To do so, it will create a cyber defense technician certificate program that integrates entrepreneurial skills with cybersecurity skills to train Cyberpreneur specialists. The Cyberpreneur program will include both new and existing courses to provide technical and business training. Through focused recruiting and retention activities, the project also intends to increase diversity within the cyber defense workforce. Individuals who complete the Cyberpreneur program will help to address cyber defense workforce needs within the Inland Empire region of Southern California and elsewhere in the country.
This project will develop a certificate program that teaches theory and enables students to develop technical expertise in cyber defense, auditing of systems, incident response, remediation of vulnerabilities, and the use of artificial intelligence tools. Students will also complete coursework in entrepreneurship, finance, and accounting. A Business and Industry Leadership Team will guide curriculum development and provide advice regarding curriculum modifications and experiential learning requirements. The project includes outreach activities such as presentations at local high schools, participation in career fairs, and advertising in media outlets that reach large underrepresented communities. Best practices for recruiting and retention of students from underrepresented groups, including those developed by the National Center for Women in Technology, will be leveraged to increase diversity in cyber defense education programs and the workforce. An external evaluator and the project leadership team will conduct assessments to establish benchmarks for increasing inclusion within the program. The program will leverage existing NSF ATE Center websites (including the National Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance, National CyberWatch, and the National Convergence Technology Center) to promote new content modules and support the dissemination of project-related information.