PCC Part of Cybersecurity Coalition Receiving $2-million NSA Grant

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The National Security Agency’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity has awarded the North Carolina Partnership for Cybersecurity Excellence (NC-PaCE) a $2 million grant to close the state’s growing cybersecurity workforce gap.

The newly-formed NC-PaCE coalition, which includes Pitt Community College, will feature eight of the state’s colleges and universities working with public agencies and private-sector businesses to establish a skilled cybersecurity workforce that protects North Carolina’s financial and intellectual property assets from cyber threats.

Cyberseek, an organization that tracks the cybersecurity job market, ranks North Carolina sixth in the country in terms of cybersecurity job demand with 17,660 openings. The average annual salaries for such cybersecurity roles exceed $100,000.

“The need for cybersecurity-trained professionals is real in North Carolina,” said Laurie Williams, Distinguished University Professor in N.C. State’s University’s Department of Computer Science and co-director of the coalition. “NC-PaCE will propel the development of cybersecurity expertise necessary to support (North Carolina) industry and government and to establish cybersecurity as an economic development tool for the state.”

NC PaCE will be headquartered in N.C. State’s Secure Computing Institute, which was created in 2019 to be a leading center for security education and research. Joining PCC as partnering institutions are East Carolina University, North Carolina A&T State University, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington, and Forsyth and Wake Technical community colleges.

NC PaCE will provide companies and public-sector agencies with a diverse and specialized set of security education, research and services. The coalition’s coursework and research curriculum will be tailored to the needs of the state to ensure that the trained workforce is ready to address challenges that are impeding North Carolina’s economic growth and entrepreneurial flourishing.

A planned government and industry advisory board for NC PaCE will include representatives from the state’s finance, energy, technology and defense sectors. A coalition survey of representatives from these and other industries and government found a strong desire for access to research focused on foundational elements of secure system development and access to graduates of both four- and two-year college and university degree programs focused on cybersecurity knowledge and skills.

NC-PaCE will establish a membership model that allows businesses and government agencies to benefit from its research and expertise. For more information on membership, contact Williams at lawilli3@ncsu.edu or (919) 513-4151.