d521usc001Terrorists are inevitable in the world, but Moraine Valley Community College and Chicago State University are partnering to educate students to combat those threats. A three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) has allowed the two institutions to create a pathway for students to study cybersecurity and cyber intelligence.

The nearly $500,000 grant replicates a model developed at California State University, San Bernadino. This adapted model creates pathways between existing majors such as cybersecurity, biology, criminal justice, and any other courses with security and intelligence programs at Chicago State.

“Moraine Valley is happy to receive this new grant from the National Science Foundation. It will allow the college to build upon its nationally known cybersecurity program and, in collaboration with Chicago State University, create pathways for students to earn degrees in cybersecurity and intelligence,”said Dr. Sylvia Jenkins, Moraine Valley college president. “These students—our district community members—ultimately will become tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers, and that’s incredibly exciting.”

While cybersecurity is the protection of networks, computers and programs from attacks, cyber intelligence involves gathering useful data and doing analysis to make better decisions on areas from agriculture to economics, said Dr. John Sands, Moraine Valley professor/department chair of Information Technology and director/principal investigator of the Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance (CSSIA) NSF Regional Center.

Three goals of the grant are: to train instructors, which is Moraine Valley’s niche, through summer workshops; recruit students for a summer academy, where they earn undergraduate credits that matriculate to a four-year degree with a concentration on cybersecurity and cyber intelligence; and establish a small research project to examine the best methods to promote security and intelligence programs in high schools.

Moraine Valley is a CAE/2Y, which is a National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance 2-Year Education. Through this, colleges are encouraged to improve education and research in information assurance to ultimately reduce vulnerability in the nation’s information infrastructure. The college also has resources and connections with the academic community established through CSSIA. Conversely, Chicago State has an Intelligence Community CAE.