Angelo State University has been awarded a $295,402 grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) to fund the new “ASU Cybersecurity Capacity Building Project” that will expand the cybersecurity program in ASU’s Department of Computer Science.
The initial purpose of the project is to create a minor in cybersecurity that will consist of six courses and be available to students starting in the fall semester of 2021. The grant funding will be used to add one full-time faculty member, new computer equipment and software, and highly qualified adjunct faculty, if needed. The project is directed by Dr. Don Topliff, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Erdoğan Doğdu, chair of the Department of Computer Science.
“We are thrilled to have this generous grant from the NSA,” Doğdu said. “It is a great opportunity for the Computer Science Department and ASU to grow and enhance our abilities in teaching and research in the cybersecurity area. Cybersecurity is a trendy and growing field, and the NSA grant will allow us to expand our current program offerings to new levels. Our lab infrastructure will also be upgraded with this grant. Our students will have the opportunity to be better educated and equipped in the field, and later join the workforce in the ever-growing cybersecurity area. Our ultimate goal is to be a leading center of excellence in our region for producing qualified cybersecurity professionals and promoting higher education and research in cybersecurity.”
ASU currently offers a four-course Certificate in Cybersecurity Technologies, and all the cybersecurity classes are filled to capacity each semester. The new faculty and equipment funded by the NSA grant will allow the department to add the additional new courses students will need to complete an official minor in cybersecurity.
Adding new cybersecurity courses and modifying the existing courses to meet criteria set forth by the NSA will also allow ASU to apply to become a Department of Homeland Security/NSA National Center for Academic Excellence.
“Cybersecurity is perhaps the most important topic in our lives today,” Topliff said. “This grant will allow us to expand our ability to train students for the millions of job openings at this moment. Once we have achieved the designation of a DHS/NSA Center of Academic Excellence, the opportunities for our faculty and students to compete for grants and jobs will grow exponentially.”
The ASU Cybersecurity Capacity Building Project will also establish two volunteer advisory committees, one external and one internal. The external committee will be composed of community members with interest/expertise in cybersecurity. The internal committee will have faculty from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Security Studies and Department of Computer Science.
Adding the new cybersecurity minor is also the first step toward ASU potentially adding bachelor’s and master’s degrees in cybersecurity in the future.