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Featured panelists Dr. Gregory von Lehman and Loyce Pailen highlight the accomplishments of University of Maryland Global Campus in promoting cybersecurity education in Maryland through partnerships and grants.

Now in its 10th year, the annual CyberMaryland conference held Dec. 5-6 at the Hyatt Regency, Baltimore Inner Harbor, kicked off with opening remarks from Jerry Archer, chief security officer at Sallie Mae, who reflected on the event’s first decade. 

Describing the current state of cybersecurity in the context of what he called an amazing 100 years of technological evolution, Archer told participants that we are now entering an age of action.

“We live in the orbit of connected devices, in a time where electronic agents and intelligent devices do things for us and are optimized to do what we mean and not what we say,” he said, before posing a question that he, himself, answered with a call to action.

“How do we govern, manage and secure all of this? This is security’s moment in time. If we don’t step up and lead, we lose this opportunity.”

This year’s event, sponsored by the Federal Business Council (FBC) in conjunction with academia, government and private industry organizations, featured an industry showcase of companies, contractors, and educational institutions as well as a cyber competition. (READ the story about the UMGC Cyber Padawans who finished third in the Maryland Cyber Challenge.) Conference sessions mainly focused on all that goes into building a robust cybersecurity workforce, including education, certification, hands-on training and apprenticeships.

Gregory von Lehman, special assistant to the president for cybersecurity at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), highlighted the university’s contributions to the greater cybersecurity community through education and partnerships. He Participated on a panel with Diane Janosek, commandant of the NSA’s National Cryptologic School, and Laura Nelson, CEO of the Cyber Center for Education and Innovation (CCEI), and provided an update on the tri-lateral partnership between the three organizations—which focuses on achieving the goal of preparing future cybersecurity professionals to enter the workforce.

“At UMGC, we have a capacity to scale, and a track record of academic innovation,” said von Lehman, who also serves as an advisor to the CCEI. “We also have a history of working with the military, federal civilian agencies and private partners on education initiatives, including the NSA and CCEI,” he added.

A prime focus of the partnership’s workforce preparation goal is expansion of the National Cryptological Museum to include a world-class library, classrooms, an integrated memorial park and training programs. In the works is the development of a high school cybersecurity curriculum framework that will deliver content to 8,000 classrooms nationwide, as well as webinars to train teachers and school counselors on the curriculum.

Meanwhile, Loyce Pailen, director of the UMGC Center for Support of Instruction, participated in a panel comprising local National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) programs. The panel also included William Butler, director of the Critical Infrastructures and Cyber Protection Center at Capitol Technology University, and Mary Wallingsford, chair and associate professor of cybersecurity, networking and digital forensics at Anne Arundel Community College. Pailen offered a recap of grants that are helping UMGC bring cyber education and training to the greater higher educations and K-12 communities.

One such grant, a Cybersecurity Advanced Degree Fellowship (CADF) program, offered development opportunities to degreed faculty instructors and professionals in other fields with the purpose of increasing the number of qualified faculty in cybersecurity through certification. The 10-person UMGC cohort consisted of members from private enterprises, community colleges, and the U.S. Military. To date, nine fellows are certified for adjunct faculty positions in cybersecurity at the college level. Three have been hired by UMGC.

A National Security Agency grant for participation in the GenCyber summer cybersecurity camp provided 25 teachers working at the K-12 level who have varying academic backgrounds with lesson plans, labs and supporting tools to use in their classrooms. The cybersecurity camp, hosted at UMGC in June 2019, provided teachers in computer science, network technology, business, library science and math with the necessary tools to infuse cybersecurity principles across their subject areas.

Finally, a third grant provided access to NETLAB+, an online learning platform that offers K-12 teachers practical hands-on experience with technology in virtual network environments. NETLAB+ allows teachers to gain hands-on practice in the skills needed to prepare for industry certification, or to customize pre-built curricula and content so that they may introduce cyber content into their classes.

Pailen also stressed the commitment and sacrifices teachers must make when participating in programs designed to bring cybersecurity education to their students. “It’s challenging for K-12 teachers to return to college and go through the rigors of school,” she said. “They often lack the bandwidth, but we have dedicated teachers in the program who are overcoming these issues.”