Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced today that $20 million in new federal funding soon will be available for training cybersecurity professionals through programs such as the successful Cybersecurity Workforce Certificate developed and piloted at UofL.
This year’s Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill contains significant resources to support important Kentucky institutions and programs. Utilizing his role as Senate Republican Leader and as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. McConnell advocated on behalf of the University of Louisville in this year’s government funding process. That includes his support of the NSA’s cyber workforce training initiative, which has funded educational programming at the University of Louisville.
“It’s an honor to return to my alma mater and announce that NSA’s cyber workforce training initiative, which has made landmark investments in educational programming at UofL, will once again receive robust resources from this fiscal year’s government funding bill. UofL is at the center of the growing cybersecurity field, benefitting the Commonwealth’s economy and our country’s national security. I look forward to more students taking part in this program and entering the workforce with the skillset needed to succeed in the 21st century,” said Sen. McConnell.
UofL launched its Cybersecurity Workforce Certificate in 2020 thanks to $6.2 million in funding from the NSA as a pilot for a national program supported by Sen. McConnell to train a qualified cybersecurity workforce. The UofL program so far has enrolled more than 200 students, with an emphasis on training military veterans and first responders in health care cybersecurity and logistics.
“The need for highly skilled cybersecurity professionals to protect our information systems is increasing rapidly. The University of Louisville is leading the way to meet this need in developing our innovative cybersecurity workforce training program and assembling a coalition of universities to support and replicate this training on a national level,” said Lori Stewart Gonzalez, interim president of UofL. “We are grateful to Sen. McConnell for supporting this and other programs with additional funding, and for his advocacy on behalf of UofL and Kentucky.”
UofL’s cybersecurity certificate program includes online learning, hands-on applied learning labs at all levels and gamification components, along with online technology industry badging from Microsoft, IBM and Google. Students gain expertise in artificial intelligence, robotics process automation, blockchain, internet of things (IoT), machine learning and other areas to earn individual badges throughout the certificate’s 24 modules.
“With technology continuing to become more of an integral piece of our everyday lives, a strong cybersecurity industry and workforce are the most important protections we have to ensure secure businesses and critical infrastructure across the Commonwealth and nation,” said Kevin Gardner, UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation. “As a top research institution, UofL is proud to lead the charge on this important work through groundbreaking and unparalleled research, innovation and academic programs. We appreciate Sen. McConnell’s support for advancing cybersecurity technology and growing our cybersecurity workforce.”
UofL is partnering with corporations, including logistics companies, health care providers and others, as well as other colleges and universities to create a national cybersecurity training coalition. UofL’s university partners include Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges, University of North Florida, University of Arkansas – Little Rock, City University of Seattle, Kentucky State University, Simmons College, City University of New York, Kennesaw State University, Hood College and Northwest Missouri State University. The University of West Florida and Purdue University Northwest also are building university coalitions for cybersecurity workforce training.
“This new funding can allow UofL and the other lead universities to leverage resources and initiate cooperation for the good of the entire cybersecurity national community,” said Sharon Kerrick, associate professor and assistant vice president, UofL Digital Transformation Center.
Following the initial $6.2 million in funding to launch the UofL program in 2020, the university received an additional $2.3 million to expand it to include logistics and train-the-trainer components in which students are trained to instruct others in their organizations.
The UofL Digital Transformation Center provides future-focused curricula and educational tools to help train the workforce in fast-growing technology areas by integrating the best features of industry and academic institution relationships.