Marquette professor awarded $2.6 million grant for cybersecurity training

Marquette University assistant computer science professor Dr. Debbie Perouli has been awarded a $2.6 million grant through the National Science Foundation for cybersecurity training that meets government needs for that expertise.

The grant will provide funds for a CyberCorps Scholarships For Service program, CyberWIN, which will grant training for 16 participants in one of the following: an accelerated computer science undergraduate and cybersecurity specialization master’s degree program, a graduate program with cybersecurity specialization, or a computer science doctoral program focusing on cybersecurity research.

“This project is intended to meet the growing cybersecurity needs of federal, state, local and tribal governments, both near term with the training of cybersecurity professionals and long term with the improvement of our training program,” Perouli said. “We will seek to uncover the high-impact practices that increase students’ commitment and realize any effect that personal experiences may have on determining them. Our framework can then be adopted by any institution, as it relies on student self-reflections that capture the whole educational experience through rich, multi-dimensional data.”

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Dr. Keke Chen, Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute Associate Professor of Computer Science, and Dr. Thomas Kaczmarek, adjunct associate professor of computer science and founder of the Center for Cyber Security Awareness and Cyber Defense at Marquette, are co-investigators on the award. Dr. Lee Za Ong, assistant professor of counselor education and counseling psychology in the College of Education, is also a part of the research team as an external evaluator who will assist in designing assessment instruments, collecting data and analyzing results.

The goals of CyberWIN are to recruit scholars with high potential of academic success from diverse backgrounds and produce 16 advanced degree graduates in cybersecurity, including two Ph.D. candidates, over the five years of the project. CyberWIN scholars will mentor high school Milwaukee students of the federal Trio program Upward Bound Math and Science with the goal of broadening participation in computing and cybersecurity. The high school students will participate in groups during Marquette’s annual ACM Wisconsin-Dairyland Programming Competition, where they will present a poster on a cybersecurity topic.

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