A CEHD professor has been awarded a set of grants that will help strengthen computer science education and cybersecurity. Clinical Assistant Professor Dr. Trez Jones said both grants, worth $240,000, will not only train teachers and students in cybersecurity, but also help to push the information technology field statewide and at Texas A&M.
The first grant funds the hosting of a GenCyber Camp on campus. The GenCyber Program is a program that increases the nationwide interest in cybersecurity training. Funded by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the GenCyber Camp will offer two camp sessions in both June and August with classes held at the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center.
“Our lab has really taken on the mantle of being the cybersecurity education facility for Texas A&M,” said Dr. Jones. “With it, we are looking to increase diversity in computer science and information technology (IT) work in underserved areas and increase a dialogue on cyber infrastructure and give a base of broader research.”
This year’s camp will feature 40 elementary and high school teachers from various regions across Texas, who will be trained in an extensive weeklong program. Teachers will receive 40 hours of instruction about cybersecurity in support of the GenCyber principles and Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Common standards for computer science TEKS are at a high level, too often teachers are unfamiliar or untrained in those standards, according to Dr. Jones.
“Texas has the third greatest need for cybersecurity jobs that are going unfulfilled,” said Dr. Jones. “The importance of up to date cybersecurity remains a high priority for educational entities because it is constantly evolving.”
In addition to instruction, each teacher will be given a laptop with content from the camp and be introduced to other available resources. The knowledge teachers will walk away with will enable ongoing training in their own respective schools as a train-the-trainer, teach the teacher mindset, Dr. Jones said.
The second grant received is called the Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP). The grant will fund the development of several new courses that focus on the use of cybersecurity used in different ways. Some of the classes include the digital ethics, crypto-currency, secure coding, and digital forensics.
The CNAP grant leaves room for future collaboration with other departments — something Dr. Jones said will be very beneficial to the university and beyond.
“This grant will wind up funding cybersecurity action at Texas A&M and make sure that cybersecurity is always in the conversation,” said Dr. Jones. “It’s important that we are doing what we can to get people aware of these topics because it ultimately helps to improve the national and business climate.”
More information about the new cybersecurity new courses will be available soon. Visit the Cybersecurity Center website for more details.