Augusta University, Clark Atlanta University and Mississippi State University partnered to form a consortium that has been awarded $1.5 million from the Office of the Secretary of Defense through the Griffiss Institute, a nonprofit talent and technology accelerator for the Department of Defense. The award funds the establishment of a virtual institute in the southeastern United States with the VICEROY program (Virtual Institute for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employ), with Mississippi State University serving as the lead institution.
The southeastern virtual institute will receive the funds from the DoD over the next two years “for purposes of accelerating and focusing the development of foundational expertise in critical cyber operational skills for future military and civilian leaders,” under the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act of 2019.
“We are very excited to win this award,” said Dr. Michael Nowatkowski, Augusta University’s project lead for the VICEROY consortium. “Not only does it involve four colleges here at AU, but it also allows us to strengthen collaborations with Mississippi State University and Clark Atlanta University.”
The consortium leverages Augusta University’s existing educational partnerships with the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon and Mississippi State University’s ties with the 2nd U.S. Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base, along with the existing strong partnership between Clark Atlanta University and AU.
A major impact of the virtual institute will be the creation of joint academic programs that are exemplars for each of the six required academic areas: programs leading to certifications and cyber-related degrees; targeted strategic foreign language proficiency training; programs focused on the mathematical foundations of cryptography; programs related to data science; developing an early interest in cyber careers and cyber talent; and training and education programs to expand the pool of qualified cyber instructors.
In addition to the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences, Augusta University colleges involved in academic program development include the College of Science and Mathematics, Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Education.
The VICEROY program is intended to increase the quantity and quality of U.S. students who possess job-ready Department of Defense cybersecurity skills upon graduation. The approach is to augment traditional college curricula by providing hands-on, experiential learning and internship opportunities that are uniquely tailored to match the workforce demands of the Armed Services, DoD and defense industrial base partners.
“This award further establishes Augusta University’s leadership in cybersecurity education and research, helping both our students and their future employers,” says Dr. Gagan Agrawal, associate dean of research and graduate education in the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences.