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NSF cybersecurity grant extended for Penn College


The National Science Foundation recently rewarded Pennsylvania College of Technology’s commitment to tomorrow’s cybersecurity workforce by extending a grant for an additional year.

The grant – “Improving the Pipeline: After-School Model for Preparing Cyber Defense and Information Assurance Professionals” – facilitates interaction between information technology faculty and high school students to introduce rewarding career possibilities in cybersecurity.

During the past two years, students from Williamsport Area, Jersey Shore Area, Muncy and Hughesville high schools have visited campus each week to learn about the field. The grant’s extension for the 2019-20 academic year opens the program to any high school junior or senior in Lycoming County. Accepted students will receive a scholarship to cover the cost of the course: Cybersecurity for Non-IT Majors.

High school teachers are also eligible to take the class and become qualified to teach it as part of Penn College NOW, the college’s nationally accredited dual-enrollment program.

“The extension of the NSF grant will allow Penn College to further educate local students and teachers about information assurance and cybersecurity,” said Bradley M. Webb, assistant dean of Penn College’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies. “Careers are plentiful, and we need to infuse the field with high-quality graduates dedicated to securing the data systems we rely on daily. This program, developed with NSF support, helps accomplish that goal.”

Webb served as co-principal investigator for the $438,391 grant with Jacob R. Miller. Sandra Gorka was the principal investigator. Miller and Gorka are associate professors of computer science at Penn College.

In 2017-18, 17 high school students participated in the program, and at least five of them decided to pursue security careers. Last year, 23 students took the course, and approximately half indicated an interest in seeking an information technology career.

“The high schools and students alike have expressed an appreciation for the course and the content,” Webb said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to expose more schools and students to the program.”

Visit the Cybercorps webpage to apply for the program.

Penn College offers baccalaureate degrees in information assurance and cybersecurity, game and simulation programming, information technology: network specialist concentration, and software development and information management, and an associate degree in information technology: technical support technology emphasis.

For information about those majors and other programs offered by the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

For more about grant-funding opportunities, faculty and staff may contact the Grants and Contracts Office at ext. 7580 or through its Web portal.

For information on Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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