Two Elmhurst University faculty members have been awarded a federal grant of nearly $500,000 to encourage more people to enter the rapidly growing cybersecurity profession by empowering high school teachers with cybersecurity knowledge.
The National Science Foundation awarded the three-year collaborative grant, “Cybersecurity Faculty Development for High School Teachers,” to David Brown and Dean Jensen, both assistant professors in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems. Arcadia University, a comprehensive university in suburban Philadelphia, is a partner on the project.
As the lead institution, Elmhurst will work with Arcadia to provide summer training workshops for high school teachers in Chicago and Philadelphia that will help them become more comfortable teaching cybersecurity. In addition, Beverly Troiano, associate professor of education at Elmhurst, will help to develop cybersecurity curricula for the classroom.
This additional support will equip educators to encourage more students to consider cybersecurity degrees and careers, addressing a widening gap between the growing number of available positions and the number of college graduates who can fill them.
In recent years, the frequency and scale of cyberattacks has increased significantly, with high-profile breaches affecting government agencies, businesses, infrastructure and individual people.
“Cybercrime is here, and whether it’s targeting our businesses or us personally, it’s the new Wild, Wild West and we have to be concerned,” Jensen said. “And as we become more cyber dependent, we need dedicated people who are able to understand and mitigate these threats.”
The teacher training workshops are expected to begin in the summer of 2025.
The federal grant is the latest in the University’s efforts to strengthen its cyber education offerings. Since launching Elmhurst’s cybersecurity major in 2020, Jensen and Brown have received an innovation grant to develop a “cyber range” where students can build their cybersecurity skills. The University will also host a camp next summer for high school students interested in cybersecurity.
And earlier this fall, the University was designated a CyberPatriot Center of Excellence by the U.S. Air Force Association, a non-profit military association that supports the Air Force. The award means that Elmhurst has demonstrated excellence and exceptional commitment to advancing STEM and cybersecurity education. The designation also makes Elmhurst eligible for student grants and internships, hardware and software grants, and other benefits.