The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has received an $800,000 federal grant to expand its cybersecurity education program for teachers and develop a standardized curriculum to build pathways for cybersecurity education between high schools and colleges.
The grant from the National Security Agency will help grow the National Cybersecurity Teaching Academy, a collaboration of 10 institutions in nine states established in 2021. UA Little Rock, the lead institution, will work with academic partners inncluding DePaul University, the University of Louisville and cybersecurity nonprofit DARK Enterprises Inc.
The grant will allow the NCTA to provide multiple offerings of its gateway course, Teaching Cybersecurity, at no cost to qualified applicants, UA Little Rock said in a news release. Teachers will be able to take the free course for professional development credit. They'll also have the option to complete a certification exam for transfer credit to any NCTA institution if they later decide to complete the graduate certificate program.
Additionally, the NCTA will expand its 12-hour graduate certificate to 18 hours to meet state requirements that allow educators to teach concurrent credit courses in high school.
UA Little Rock and its partners will also work with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to launch a joint task force that will issue an interim update to the Cyber Security Education Consortium (CSEC) guidelines. These guidelines are used to accredit undergraduate cybersecurity programs.
Philip Huff, assistant professor of cybersecurity, and Sandra Leiterman, managing director of the Cyber Arena, will serve as principal investigators.
"By standardizing the NCTA, we make it easy for other states to develop the same successful model that Arkansas has created," Huff said in the release. "This ensures that more states can take the same path to educating cybersecurity teachers and having more students coming out of high school with cybersecurity credit who are ready to enter a cybersecurity degree or workforce development program."
The initial two-year grant comes with an option for a third year with an additional nearly $400,000 in funding, which would bring the total grant amount to nearly $1.2 million.